A dhow christened Flipflopi was launched at KWS headquarters Tuesday, September 22, 2020 by KWS Director of Strategy and Change Mr. Edwin Wanyonyi, in collaboration with other partners.
The nine-metre dhow is the first one ever to be made entirely from 10 tonnes of plastic waste - collected during beach clean-ups along the Kenyan Coast.
Mr. Wanyonyi, speaking on behalf of KWS’ Director General, said that KWS was happy to be a part of the program, explaining that Flipflopi was brought to KWS headquarters in March 2019 and has since been a major attraction for visitors. He said that KWS introduced the ban on single-use plastics in all KWS parks in June 2020, stating that Flipflopi is symbolic of the work done by KWS.
“We continue to look for different ways as a Service, to ensure that our parks continue to be plastic-free, having engaged a number of stakeholders in continuous clean-up exercises,” he said.
Mr. Wanyonyi appreciated KWS’ growing partnership with UNEP and Flipflopi’s founders, announcing that Flipflopi was destined for Lake Victoria in Kisumu, before proceeding to Kisumu Impala.
The Director and Regional representative for Africa, UNEP, Ms. Juliette Biao Koudenoukpo, welcomed the partnership with KWS. She explained that UNEP is supporting the expedition to pass on a message, to inspire and to raise awareness. “The Flipflopi was a key exhibit at the fourth session at the United Nations Environment Assembly in Kenya (UNEA-4), to showcase the spirit of conservation innovation in Africa,” she said, adding that our ability to cope with plastic waste is already overwhelmed. She said that only nine per cent (9%) of the nine billion tonnes of plastic produced in the world has been recycled, with the rest ending up in landfills, dumps and the environment.
Ms. Koudenoukpo said that plastic pollution is a trans-boundary concern, requiring collaborative action between governments, the private sector and consumers, recommending a regional co-operation and action plan to prevent further pollution. She lauded Kenya’s bans on single-use plastic bags in 2017, and single-use plastics in national parks during World Environment Day.
She said the Covid19 pandemic has unfortunately increased single-use plastic use in Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), adding that UNEP is committed to helping the government and the people of Kenya, as well as neighbouring countries, in the fight against marine plastic pollution.
The co-founders of the Flipflopi, Ali Skanda and Dipesh Pabari, expressed their gratitude for the support received form KWS, UNEP and other stakeholders for the Flipflopi project, which they started in 2016. Mr. Skanda said that protection of our environment was a much more pressing necessity in today’s world today. “We are forming a petition now, to stop the single-use plastics across East Africa and the world,” he said. Mr. Pabari said the Flipflopi was built on the Coast of Kenya using jua kali, meaning small-scale craft using extremely low-tech technology. The dhows construction and voyages will show that Africa is leading in environmental issues. He appreciated the new partners coming on board and the on-going support of the UN and KWS.
Flipflopi made its maiden voyage across the Indian Ocean September 15, 2018, covering 500 kilometres from Lamu to Zanzibar. It is now slated for its second expedition across Lake Victoria, the second-largest fresh water lake in the world. These voyages mean to draw the world’s attention to the devastating effects of pollution in the region’s most important fresh water ecosystem, by highlighting the upstream impact of pollutants on the Lake Environment and human health.
The expedition is supported by the governments of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the French Development Agency (AFD), UN Live and private sector partners.