By Our Reporter
Flipflopi, the world’s first sailing dhow made from 100% recycled plastic, is on a world-first expedition of Africa’s largest freshwater ecosystem – Lake Victoria – taking its vital message up-stream and calling for an end to unnecessary single-use plastic threatening the region.
Aligning with Uganda Water and Environment Week (UWEWK) 2021 and supported by Ugandan Ministries of Water and the Environment and several other stakeholders, Flipflopi sailed into Ugandan waters on 11th March to bring the region’s attention to the need to conserve our waterways, protect livelihoods and save the environment.
Flipflopi’s Lake Victoria expedition will include some 10 stops around the lake that will engage school children, community leaders, conservationists, business leaders and policymakers, demonstrating alternate uses of waste plastic, highlighting other circular waste models and calling for an end to single-use plastics.
Lake Victoria, supporting 40 million East Africans, symbolises the catastrophic effects of climate change, and has been under increased pressure from mismanaged waste and pollution, which threatens the health and livelihoods of communities.
A recent study estimated that 1 in 5 of the fish in Lake Victoria had ingested plastic. Another recent study ubiquitously recorded microplastics in surface waters in several sites of Lake Victoria. At the heart of the plastic waste problem is the linear ‘take-make-dispose’ model of consumption, as products get manufactured, bought, used briefly, and then thrown away.
The Flipflopi project is an African initiative showcasing alternative uses of plastic waste and the possibilities of circular economy approaches.
Ali Skanda, co-founder of the Flipflopi project and builder of the world’s first recycled plastic dhow, said: “Flipflopi was built to show the world that it is possible to make valuable materials out of waste plastic, and that single-use plastic really does not make sense.
“By sailing around the lake, we hope to inspire people to create their own waste-plastic innovations and adopt circular waste management solutions that help build greener businesses, whilst also taking plastic out of the environment. Together with communities across the Lake Victoria region we hope to bring awareness and innovative solutions to beat pollution and support a green recovery in East Africa.”
By bringing widespread attention to the lake region, Flipflopi and its partners will support regional consensus in the adoption of new policies that will help drive a sustainable recovery in East Africa. As part of the expedition, the team also launched a petition calling for a regional ban on single-use plastics.
Flipflopi is being supported and joined by a set of key players including the Governments of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, UNEP, The UK’s Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), the French Development Agency (AFD), EU, UN Live, as well as private sector including Africa’s leading Law Firm, Anjarwalla and Khanna.