IOM resumes its returnees' beach cleaning campaign

Group photo of beneficiaries, partners and staff of IOM Sierra Leone at the Returnees beach cleaning inception training in Freetown. Photo: IOM 2024/Bilal Kamara

Since its launch in 2023, the Returnees' beach cleaning campaign has provided cash-for-work assistance to nearly 1,000 beneficiaries, comprising men and women of exceptional bravery, who removed almost 196 metric tons of solid waste from the beach. Photo: IOM 2024/Bilal Kamara

Freetown - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) resumed its returnees’ beach clean-up campaign at the Lumley/Aberdeen beach in Freetown on 17 April 2024. This campaign aims to provide income and a source of livelihood for 320 migrant returnees who recently returned home through IOM’s safe and dignified voluntary return programme. 

The Returnees’ Beach Clean-up campaign is one of IOM's flagship, cash-based intervention reintegration programs under the Migrant Protection, Return, and Reintegration Programme for Sub-Saharan Africa (MPRR-SSA). Over the years, this program has facilitated the safe, voluntary returns of many Sierra Leonean migrants stranded on migration routes. Upon arrival home, the project provides returnees with immediate cash support through beach cleaning activities. Through this activity, returnees earn income while contributing to environmental conservation through reduced marine pollution and tourism promotion. It is also one of IOM's green reintegration assistance programs, through which returnees receive training in waste management and learn how to enhance their interpersonal skills to support their reintegration journey into their communities.

Launched in February 2023, the Returnees' beach cleaning campaign has supported  about 1,000 beneficiaries, comprising men and women of exceptional bravery, who removed nearly 196 metric tons of solid waste from the beach. This achievement is a testament to the collective action of IOM staff, the National Tourist Board, Freetown City Council and returnees. The beach was restored to its natural beauty through these collaborations, exemplifying the shared responsibility for a safe and clean environment. Furthermore, IOM donated cleaning materials and tools to the National Tourist Board in Freetown to continue these efforts.

The campaign has garnered attention of many, including the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator, the European Union in Sierra Leone and Government ministries and agencies, who volunteered to join the beach clean-up campaign as part of efforts to promote and maintain a clean environment. By the end of 2023, IOM was nominated and awarded by Shout Climate Change Africa as the Beach Preservation Organization of the Year award for 2023 at its annual Environmental Care Awards, further validating the campaign’s success.

During a beach cleaning training session held at Family Kingdom, Christos Christodoulides, Head of Office of IOM Sierra Leone, highlighted the significance of Lumley/Aberdeen Beach in Freetown. He pointed out the beach's strategic location in the city and stated that maintaining its cleanliness could help support tourism and promote a clean and healthy environment.
"Clean beaches attract tourists, driving economic growth through the creation of jobs and opportunities. Sierra Leone is blessed to have many beautiful beaches, including the Lumley/Aberdeen beach right in the middle of the city. Keeping it clean is important and requires the collective efforts of all."

21-year-old John Momoh is one of the beneficiaries of the beach cleaning campaign and shares his feelings about participating in the exercise. “The beach cleaning is the first employment I have ever had. I am happy to participate in this activity because it makes me feel useful in contributing to something important in my country and earning from it.”

Sierra Leone is renowned for its breathtaking beaches, which offer a perfect getaway for tourists seeking to unwind and relax in a serene environment. However, over time, these beaches face numerous threats, including plastic pollution, ever-expanding beachfront establishments, and excessive seaweed growth that is often washed ashore, leaving them in a less-than-ideal state. Plastic waste has significantly impacted the beaches' natural beauty and poses a significant threat to marine life and tourism. 

The returnees’ beach clean-up campaign is one of IOM's contributions to support and complement the government's efforts to keep the beaches of Freetown clean and preserve the environment. This initiative is supported by the Migrant Protection, Return, and Reintegration Programme for Sub-Saharan Africa (MPRR-SSA) project funded by the European Union (EU).


For more information, please contact :

Bilal Kamara, IOM Sierra Leone, 

Joëlle Furrer, IOM Regional Office for West and Central Africa, 

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