Diagnostic Study on Marine Litter Prevention especially relating to Plastics in Coastal Kenya

piled up plastic on the beach with fishermen in the background

The ongoing degradation of the natural environment, especially along coastal areas, through accumulation of non-biodegradable materials such as plastic waste and marine litter, poses a hazard to both human and marine life. This has prompted the call for urgent remedial action by policymakers across the globe.

It is estimated that there are currently 150 million metric tonnes of plastics in the oceans worldwide, with approximately 5 to 13 million metric tonnes added annually given prevailing trends in urbanisation, production and consumption. Given the severity of the problem, international and national governments have committed to action-plans to combat marine litter on a national and global scale. The Government of Kenya, through the State Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Blue Economy (SDFA&BE) and with support from the World Bank, is currently preparing the Kenya Marine Fisheries and Socio-Economic Development Project (KEMFSED) which has identified marine pollution as a key project area.

The project is one of the targeted activities under the KEMSFED Project aimed at reducing marine litter and plastic pollution. Cardno together with its consortium partner, Resources & Waste Advisory Group, have been selected to carry out the diagnostic study to assess the magnitude of marine litter and plastics along Kenya’s coast. Outputs from the assessment will inform policy on marine litter and guide related future investment in the area.

Learn more about the Resources and Waste Advisory Group


The main objective of the project is to boost economic benefits derived from coastal and marine resources. It plans to improve management of priority fisheries and mariculture while simultaneously increasing access to complementary livelihoods in coastal communities. The anticipated outcome of the project is strengthened governance and management of marine fisheries and improved livelihoods along coastal areas.

The study will analyse the scale of marine litter and plastics distribution in the ocean, coast and nearshore environment, targeting priority areas of impact on Kenya’s coastal and marine environment. It will further note the 10 most prevalent plastics and identify their sources and pathways. The assessment will comprise a desk-study complemented by targeted field work that will include data collection, analysis, modelling and key stakeholder consultations.

Cardno’s approach will extend assessments carried out by previous surveys into new areas, using similar and compatible methods. This will reinforce the body of evidence while providing opportunity for adapted methods to be deployed based on experience. Complementing similar work carried out will ensure there is no replication or contradiction with already completed surveys and will leverage existing knowledge.

The study will yield a spatial distribution of plastic waste along Kenyan’s coastal and nearshore environment with waste characterisation and a flow assessment in priority areas. It will thereafter make policy recommendations on eco-friendly, easily recyclable and energy efficient alternatives to the top 10 plastic waste types identified. The assessment report will further outline mitigation activities that reduce, recycle and reuse plastics and recommend action steps to progress the initiatives.

The team will engage closely with the World Bank Task Team Leader, associated government institutions and local partners. A stakeholder forum will follow the assessment to outline recommended options for addressing marine litter and plastic pollution along Kenya’s Coast following the principles of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Regulate (4Rs).