The Mombasa Plastics Prize is an event that aims to incentivize young innovators to come up with solutions to the ongoing and emerging issues surrounding plastic waste in the coastal city of Mombasa, Kenya. The event was held at the Swahilipot Hub and was organized by a number of organizations, including USAID, Canada, Proportion, Blue Globe Innovation Consultants, Brand Spark PR and Challenge Works.
The event was opened with a thought-provoking spoken word and rap performance by the duo Brothers of Destruction, who emphasized the importance of changing our ways and stopping littering in order to protect the environment. Naomi Whitbourn, the Program Manager of Challenge Works and the Mombasa Plastics Prize, and Gabriella Kisoi, the Assistant Program Manager of Challenge Works, discussed the goals of the event and the research that went into designing it.
Applications for the Mombasa Plastics Prize were opened in September and November, and the first hackathon event was held in January and February. A total of 144 submissions were received from across Mombasa County, and 60 innovators were selected to participate. 60% of the participants were young women, and 70% of them resided in informal settlements.
At the event, the participants had the opportunity to share their experiences so far. Samuel Omondi discussed the challenge of irresponsible dumping in Kisauni and how it ultimately ends up in the sea, and Lorine from Likoni shared her passion for saving the environment and how the Mombasa Plastics Prize gave her the opportunity to make a difference.
The host of the event, Dr. Safia Lui Abdiwahid, the Chair of the Board of the Swahilipot Hub and the Vice Chair of NEMA, welcomed the guests and participants and highlighted the impact of plastic waste on the oceans. She emphasized the importance of reducing the use of single-use plastic and the need for proper waste management over profits.
The Deputy Governor, Francis Folenu Thoya, CEC Environment, and Solid Waste Management, discussed the need for change in attitudes among residents and the efforts being made by the County to address the waste problem. He also highlighted the challenges faced in waste management, particularly waste segregation at the household level, and praised the Mombasa Plastics Prize for engaging the youth in finding solutions.
In a panel discussion led by Suzanne Semenye of Brand Spark, the panelists discussed the role of stakeholders in addressing the plastic waste problem and the importance of creating structures that ensure proper waste disposal. The organizers also recognized the role of Mombasa Cement in transforming the Kibarani Dumpsite and the role of businesses in supporting innovation in waste management.
The finalists were awarded certificates and will proceed to training and mentorship to further develop their innovations, before eventually pitching their solutions to a panel of judges.
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