World ocean day beach, ocean and mangrove cleanup!
Fundacion Bahia is proud to report great progress with its environmental and social work so far! As stated in our previous report, this year´s goal is to continue our environmental education efforts for the protection of the bay of Cartagena, but also to help the community of Punta Arena, in the island of Tierra Bomba, by strengthening local associations and coming closer to sustainable actions for the improvement of the quality of life for all and the preservation of our shared ecosystems.
Fundación Bahia´s main projects this 2021 are Sustainable Punta Arena and Clean Seas: Guardians of the Ocean. The educational program based on our workbook Soy mar (I am sea) is part of the Clean Sea project, but also at the base of our educational initiative in Punta Arena, where a group of roughly 20 locals are being formed to protect our oceans and ecosystems. In Cartagena there are another 40 student volunteers willing to participate in clean up and educational activities to increase environmental awareness.
In Punta Arena we are continuing to boost environmental education. During February, April and March the focus was on strengthening the local recyclers association, young members of the Environmental Guards and the association of restaurateurs from Punta Arena. The local recycler association Asocomangle is receiving reinforcement and workshops in alliance with Fundes - Reciclamos Juntos project. Recyclers have received more than 10 workshops and technical assistance in reviewing their recycling routes, administrative and managerial skills reinforcement, and even life plans for themselves and their families. During the months of May and June, the Fundacion Bahia team and local volunteers joined to strategize and the goal is to reach more than 200 households and shops within the community in an effort to increase recycling, improve separation at source practices and encourage better residue management. Increased awareness through house to house visits and shops is important in order to protect vulnerable ecosystems such as the Cienaga, an inner body of water or swamp that has all the potential to become an ecotourism hot spot.
One of the critical points in terms of the environmental health of the community and the conservation of its territory is related to this Cienaga de la Salina, located at the back of the town. At the beginning of the project, during the first roundtables and socialization of objectives, the need for the community to raise awareness among restaurateurs who continue to dump waste into the swamp was raised. The problem of the swamp is profound and does not depend only on the community council or the technical support of the foundation for its resolution. The swamp faces the phenomenon that so many other bodies of water face: drying out and land-filling with waste and rubbish for construction. In Punta Arena it is still possible to save parts of it, or at least prevent its total deterioration. However, this requires that the entire community agree and cease its activities of landfill and excessive construction. For this, we try to revalue this body of water and promote a shared vision of its eco-tourism importance that will hopefully gain strength and sink into the collective unconscious and consciousness of the entire population.
With the economic reactivation after the pandemic and the high tourism season of December and January 2021, it became clear that the garbage collection service in the community was inefficient or insufficient. This, added to the fact that the recyclers were disbanded and leaderless, made the locals revert to using the swamp as a garbage dump again. The first step to curb this harmful behavior was to establish contact with restaurateurs and recyclers - to ensure their reactivation, since their work is essential for cleaning Punta Arena. We also invited the operating company in charge of waste collection to join the project and improve its level of commitment and attention to the community.
The unexpected visit of Paul Akers, author and recognized speaker of Lean Culture, helped us to invite the community youngsters and restaurant owners to eliminate any waste of time and resources in order to enhance productivity. This incredible lecturer gave his talk to the members of the Environmental Guard and the restaurant owners, promoting the culture of non-waste in the community.
Thanks to our allies and local volunteers we organized 4 beach cleanups in Punta Arena, and another two in Cartagena. The group of volunteers have made it their task to clean up the road leading to the cienaga in an effort to recover the area. Important allies include Ecopazifico, who brought the recycling stations to town, as well as local hotels Namaste and Fenix Beach. We also joined forces with Tu Cultura and participated in a clean-up just outside the old city. In total, more than 700 kilos of residues, mostly plastic, were prevented from entering the ocean and the bay of Cartagena. Our cleanups are educational, with proved methodology and celebrate the environmental message through art!
Thanks to your generous support as well as funding from Tamarin Foundation through Give to Colombia, and the support of all of our allies and volunteers, Fundación Bahía is able to continue to work in Punta Arena and in Cartagena, raising environmental awareness and education to better face the challenges of today and the future. We can all be guardians of the ocean! Please follow us on social media to learn of our progress in real time. Many thanks for your support!
Local recyclers Punta Arena
Beach Clean Up March 27, 2021
Children working on mural!
Finished environmental mural
Alliances at work for cleaning up Punta Arena
Cleaning up la Cienaga de la Salina!
Lean no waste workshop with environmental guards
Guardians of the ocean workshop!
Underwater clean up on June 8th, 2021
World environmental day beach cleanup! Jun5th
House by house raising awareness strategy!
Cartagena beach clean up!
Visits to restaurants to improve recycling