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Today's toolkit for a cleaner world (YOUNG CLIMATE ACTIVIST SERIES)

Determined to keep litter off the streets and beaches, Anas Seko, 27, is using every modern method in the book to engage other young Africans and get the job done.

by bird story agency staff

Nothing gets Anas Seko's blood boiling more than seeing someone throw garbage out in the street. The 27-year-old photographer and communications professional has committed himself to creating a cleaner environment - and once clean, he wants it to stay that way.

Dubbing himself "the garbage collector" his biggest challenge is sensitizing people around him to do the right thing. To do so he has built a toolkit for 21st Century activism: he stages art shows and one-man performances, creates short movies, engages in advocacy, and makes the best possible use of social networking opportunities.

Anas Seko collecting garbage in his neighborhood. Photo Credits : Anas Seko

Seko's mission kicked off in 2019 with a mobilization to clean Ganvié pier, in his neighbourhood.

Ganvié is a lake city built on stilts and is one of Benin Republic's top touristic attractions. Its pier is the gateway to the 35,000-person settlement and is also a vital hub for fishmongers and other traders. For years, the pier was badly polluted as waste was indiscriminately dumped in the area.

Anas Seko collecting plastic bottles from a river. Photo Credits : Anas Seko

Friends and relatives answered the call and with a small team and limited resources, the cleaning started.

Ganvié, sometimes referred to by the locals as the Venice of Africa, is considered an important cultural and historical heritage by most Beninese. So the move drew public attention and was reported by the local media, earning Seko nationwide fame and recognition.

Anas Seko now spearheads a new initiative called Mon Anniversaire Ma Patrie, or, My Birthday, My Country. The initiative encourages everyone to volunteer for a positive action performed on one's birthday.

The initiative has led to enthusiastic gatherings of people to clear beaches, streets, and university campuses of discarded plastic bags as they celebrate their birthdays.

Anas Seko collecting garbage in his neighborhood. Photo Credits : Anas Seko

According to Seko, education around a campaign is vital. Often, solutions are actually closer than people realise - all that is needed is information.

"In Ganvié for example, there was a small garbage collector just behind the fish market, which prevented people from spilling waste nearby," he recalled.

His plea is that education on environmental issues be introduced in schools' curricula at the earliest stage possible so that the next generation will be entirely eco-friendly.

To sensitize the youth, he stages art performances in primary schools, produces funny videos, and uses social media extensively.

Anas Seko posing for a picture. Photo Credits : Anas Seko

With COP 27 looming, the young activist has his own opinion on the impact of major international events.

"The COP is a very good initiative, very good resolutions are taken, but there is a huge gap between resolutions and their implementation on the field," he said.

That's where he comes in. Using a suite of tools that need not cost a great deal, he believes that local communities can be educated to demand more of government and force corporates to keep carbon emissions and pollution in check.

Until COP resolutions can be implemented, "the garbage collector" will continue using all the tools at his disposal to get things done "on the ground".

bird story agency


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