Social Clean-ups in Africa und Asia

We help people in Africa and Asia who live in poverty. The aid money is not given as a gift, but is paid as an expense allowance for picking up debris from water bodies. We combine combating poverty and protecting the environment with the project.

Team Limuru
Clean-up Mombasa Oktober 2020


Most of the plastic in the ocean is carried in by rivers from Asia and Africa. Many countries on these continents lack a functioning and comprehensive infrastructure for waste management. Rivers are therefore often used as natural conveyor belts that carry the waste out of the cities. Plastic pollution of the Nile begins at its source. In Lake Victoria – the third largest lake on earth – whole islands of plastic bottles and plastic bags float. The vast papyrus swamps on its shores, home to a unique ecosystem, often look like landfills. The rubbish in Lake Victoria and the Nile is carried through the Sahara to the Mediterranean.

It is not surprising that the greatest environmental pollution from civilisation waste comes from the poorest countries in the world. The connection between poverty and pollution becomes very clear when visiting the big cities of Africa and Asia. For example, in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. Around 3.5 million people live there, 60 percent of them in slums. The inhabitants of the slums fight hunger and disease every day. There is no time or energy to think about environmentally friendly waste management. The Nairobi River is therefore the most reasonable disposal option from the point of view of the poor people. The former head of UNEP, Klaus Töpfer, put it aptly: “Poverty is the strongest poison for the environment”

Our solution approach

In order to sustainably reduce the input of civilisation waste into the ocean, the removal of improperly disposed waste must go hand in hand with the reduction of poverty. Sana Mare e.V. therefore pursues the approach of social clean-ups. The association organises waste collection campaigns on beaches, coasts and rivers in Africa and Asia. Apart from a small number of volunteers, the work is mainly carried out by men and women who live in poverty. The men and women receive a fair daily wage for their participation. Depending on the country and region, this is usually between €4.00 and €6.00.

The social clean-ups have three positive effects for marine conservation.

  1. Litter is removed from coasts and shores before it ends up in the ocean.
  2. The helpers can concentrate on the litter problem for at least one day while they receive a fair wage.
  3. Awareness of the problem is raised among the poor.

The clean-up coordinators mostly work on a voluntary basis. Only in exceptional cases do they receive a daily wage themselves. The coordinators put together permanent teams with which they work together on a long-term basis. The helpers are thus offered paid work at regular intervals. This reduces the poverty of the people at least a little bit.
The collected waste is disposed of properly. In some regions, cooperation with recycling companies has already been established. If possible, the recyclable waste is sold to recycling companies. 100% of the income generated in this way flows back into the project.

Sana Mare has been carrying out social clean-ups in Kenya and Uganda since 2020. On average, seven men and women in need were paid per cleanup in 2020. The mass of waste collected averages 240 kg per clean-up (as of 15.10.2020). For 2021, social clean-ups are planned in Kenya, Uganda, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and India with the support of the German Marine Conservation Foundation.

Why should I support this project?

Economic and ecological problems are often closely linked. A sustainable solution to problems can therefore only be achieved if environmental protection and earning opportunities go hand in hand. Now is the time for solidarity with poor people in Africa and Asia. This is a great opportunity to combine financial support with active environmental protection. By supporting the project, people in need benefit as much as nature.