Proper waste disposal and management is a key factor in the fight against climate change. In most developing countries, the idea of waste management is usually characterized by beautiful speeches in the media and not in line with the ending plastic pollution global treaty on plastic pollution.

Coordinator Icenecdec Eric Fongoh (middle ) & Staff. Photo : Boris Sonkwa

Cameroon is one of the countries with a very long coastline and it is being observed that not enough effort is in place to keep it clean and safe like what obtains in other countries. A local environmental non-governmental organization in a statement in April 2022 resounded the alarm.


“In most of the village communities along the West Coast of Cameroon, proper waste management infrastructure is lacking in some areas including toilets and water, hygiene facilities and sanitation. In others, the challenge involves the general public’s awareness of the impact, plastic and litter has on the environment, human health and maritime life,” observed the International Center for Environmental Education and Community Development, ICENECDEV.

Collecting plastic waste. Photo : Boris Sonkwa
Collecting plastic waste. Photo : Boris Sonkwa

With the haphazard disposal of plastic waste along most of Cameroon’s coast, ICENECDEV embarked on a campaign to educate locals on the need to reduce plastic pollution and maritime litter in Batoké. It is a coastal community in the seaside resort town of Limbe, earlier known as Victoria, in the South West Region of Cameroon. The Batoké community is made up of businessmen, civil servants, and farmers. Fishermen make up to about 20-25% of the population.

“Each year at least 1 million tons of plastic and other waste products end up in the Atlantic oceans. More than 50% of litter that accumulates on shorelines, the sea surface and the sea floor is made up of plastics. The most common items include cigarette butts, bags, remains of fishing gear and food and beverage containers,” the Icenecdev statement partly read.

Sensitizing locals. Photo : Boris Sonkwa
Sensitizing locals. Photo : Boris Sonkwa

Before moving to Batoke the ICENECDEV team carried out an environmental education and sensitization campaign at Down Beach, a nearby community, on the importance of planting trees to fight against climate change.

While in Batoke, the Icenecdev team also sensitized the population on the dangers of climate change and maritime pollution. This was after observing large pile of plastics improperly disposed of along the beach. This waste is carried into the sea thus affecting the marine ecosystem when there are high tides. And since water is a transport medium, some of the plastics may have been deposited along the nearby Batoke, Seme, Isobo, Idenau, Bakingili, Ettisah and other beaches along the coast.

From the climate change and environmental point of view, the inadequate disposal of plastic into the seas and ocean causes indigestion, suffocation and entanglement of hundreds of marine species. The marine wildlife tends to mistake plastic waste for prey. Most then die of starvation since their stomachs become filled with plastic. Plastic waste therefore negatively affects the aquatic organisms in the marine environment.

“ Maritime litter harms over 600 marine species, (15% of which are endangered) impacts coastal economies and can enter the human food chain through fish consumption,” Icenecdev warned the locals.

They also told them that run offs from nearby streams to the sea makes it more complex to spot and pick up the soft drink plastics and other waste which could be indeed a source of income.

Waste to Resources. Photo : Boris Sonkwa
Waste to Resources. Photo : Boris Sonkwa

“To those of you selling drinks around the beach it is your responsibility to ensure those plastics are collected after consumption and kept for recycling. We would be providing you with contacts of recycling companies that would be reaching out to buy these plastics once collected,” said Icenecdev. Locals expressed satisfaction and promised to become more committed in the plastic waste collection by carrying out monthly clean up campaigns. Picking up waste plastics thus becomes another source of income to the locals in addition to their traditional fishing.

Photo : Boris Sonkwa
Photo : Boris Sonkwa

The Batoke beach clean up campaign saw the collection of about 165 kgs of plastics which was latter sold to a recycling company, NAMé recycling which fights against climate change and owns recycling plants in Gabon, Cameroon, and Belgium. 

The Fako Divisional Delegate representing Cameroon’s Ministry of Environment and Nature Protection, Ms Mercy Ekwange expressed satisfaction that the population responded positively to the campaign to prevent the haphazard disposal plastic waste in their community.

Photo : Boris Sonkwa
Photo : Boris Sonkwa

ICENECDEV’s coordinator expressed joy that the fishermen and the population collaborated towards a successful beach cleanup up the beaches. Eric Fongoh went further to appreciate their efforts and encouraged them to keep on taking care of their environment for a sustainable livelihood in their community and as a way of fighting climate change. He announced the next clean up and collection of plastic waste campaign for the Tiko port and subsequently in Kribi beach.

Frightening global plastic pollution statistics from UN News indicate that 500 billion plastic bags are used each year, 13 million tons of plastic leak into the ocean each year, 10 % of human generated waste is plastic and that it takes up to 100 years for plastic to degrade in the environment.

International Center for Environmental Education and Community Development, ICENECDEV which is championing the fight against litter and plastic pollution in the coast of Cameroon is also engaged in sustainable forest management and agriculture and access to sustainable renewable energy also has the construction of a vocational education and training center as an ongoing project.

For more stories on environmental issues check our news updates.

By Solomon Amabo and Boris Sonkwa

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