As I walked along the shores of Mombasa’s informal settlement, I couldn’t help but notice the amount of plastic waste scattered all over the place. It was as if the plastic had taken over the beach, suffocating the once pristine sand and threatening the delicate marine life that called these waters their home.
This plastic peril is not only an eyesore, but it’s also a silent killer that poses a serious threat to marine life. From sea turtles to dolphins, from fish to seabirds, plastic pollution in Mombasa’s waters has been devastating to these creatures. They mistake the colorful bits of plastic for food and ingest them, which leads to entanglement, suffocation, and ultimately, death.
I met a local fisherman named Ali who shared his story with me. Ali had been fishing in the waters off Mombasa for over 20 years, but over the last few years, he had noticed a significant decline in the number of fish he was catching. He attributed this decline to the pollution that was choking the marine life. “I used to catch so many fish, but now it’s like a desert out there,” Ali lamented.
The impact of plastic pollution is not limited to the marine life. The health and livelihoods of the people living in Mombasa’s informal settlement are also affected. The plastic waste clogs the drainage systems, causing floods during the rainy season. The flooding leads to the spread of waterborne diseases like cholera and typhoid fever, putting the health of the residents at risk.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. There are solutions to this problem, and it starts with each and every one of us. We can reduce our use of single-use plastics like straws, plastic bags, and bottles. We can properly dispose of our waste by recycling or using biodegradable products. We can also participate in beach cleanups and spread awareness about the impact of plastic pollution on marine life and our planet.
In conclusion, the plastic peril in Mombasa’s waters is not only an environmental disaster, but it’s also a humanitarian crisis that affects the health and livelihoods of the residents. We need to take action now to protect our oceans and the creatures that call them home. As the great oceanographer Jacques Cousteau once said, “The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” Let’s do our part to ensure that the spell of the sea remains unbroken for generations to come.