By Deanna Cook, Administrator, Bagamoyo Beach Lovers
In July 2018, Bagamoyo Beach Lovers united a diverse group of local stakeholders for an event introducing World Cleanup Day, an international citizen-science data campaign and environmental movement. Below are five key takeaways from hosting the event, for anyone planning to introduce data-driven initiatives in their community.
- Build trust and relationships before jumping into business
The introductory event for the World Cleanup Day campaign started off fairly casually. Guests filed into the courtyard of the eco-hotel in central Bagamoyo, and were offered a selection of beverages and light snacks. They filled out registration forms with their contact information and chatted with the other attendees as they waited for the presentation to begin. Bagamoyo Beach Lovers had been building relationships in the community for years, but this informal mingling allowed those that didn’t already know each other the chance to meet, develop a solid rapport, and build trust for themselves.
- Frame the issue in the local cultural context
One of the fundamental goals of the evening was to position the global campaign in the local context. The presenter was a Tanzanian environmental expert from Nipe Fagio, the national coordinating organisation for World Cleanup Day. He successfully negotiated the language needs of the group by speaking in both Swahili and English, switching back and forth between the two and translating as he went. The figures, statistics, and supporting images in the presentation were from around Tanzania, and where possible, the region itself. For example, in 2012, Forbes listed Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city, as the 12th dirtiest city in the world. The same 2012 study found that only 5% of waste was collected regularly in the country, while over 90% was illegally buried, burnt or dumped. Placing the issues of waste management and the environment in a Tanzanian context using verified data was essential in connecting people to the problem and helping them visualise themselves as part of the solution.
- Supplement facts and data with emotion and human connection
Songs and videos by local artists added an emotional appeal that was even more powerful than the facts alone. Msafiri Zawose, a well-known musician in Bagamoyo, wrote and filmed a music video called “Mazingira Yetu” (“Our Environment”) in honour of World Cleanup Day. Zawose gave his official endorsement, and used his platform to promote the campaign message. Other notable endorsements came from across the country, such as Dr. Jane Gooddall and the Tanzanian President’s Office, Regional Administration and Local Government, and helped lend credibility to the campaign on a national scale.
“Mazingira Yetu,” Msafiri Zawose for World Cleanup Day.
- Allow time for listening, feedback and discussion
Following the presentation, attendees discussed what they heard and saw, giving them a safe space to ask questions and air their grievances. The discussion had a ‘town hall’ feel to it, but in a more informal setting. Stakeholders spoke out from across the community, and were answered by representatives from Bagamoyo Beach Lovers, Nipe Fagio, and the District Environmental Office. This conversation and the process of listening to one another was crucial in ensuring people that their opinions mattered and their voices were being heard.
- Decide on a course of action and plan for follow-up
Before the evening ended, the event organisers outlined the next steps in the campaign and what could be expected in the coming months. Since the introductory event took place in July, there were still two months to build momentum and gain support before the official World Cleanup Day. The hosts asked attendees to follow Bagamoyo Beach Lovers’ social media pages on Facebook and Instagram, and promised to create a WhatsApp group to stay in touch. Those with smartphones could download the World Cleanup Day app and start collecting data by mapping trashpoints in their area.
They also invited everyone to attend a practice cleanup on the beach the following weekend and encouraged them to share news about the campaign within their own networks. For the school principal, this translated into making announcements to their student bodies and having classroom discussions about waste and the environment, whereas for the business owner, this meant telling their staff about the campaign and giving them some time off work to volunteer. Establishing a framework for future touchpoints and engagement was pivotal, and helped everyone feel a collaborative sense of purpose and direction on the path that lay ahead.
Bagamoyo Beach Lovers is a small community-based organisation in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. Founded in early 2016 in response to the devastating amount of trash piling up along the shore, the organisation is now the leading beach management unit in the coastal region. Today, they work with local, national and international partners to achieve their goals: cleaning the beaches and oceans, advocating for sustainable consumption and waste management practices, and engaging and educating the community about the environment.