Community-led knowledge, attitude and behaviour surveys: results from three case study sites in Kenya and Bangladesh

Cressida Bowyer, Nelson Munyiri, Esrat Karim, G. M. Isam, Davina Ngei, Steven Kator Iorfa

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


While the world continues to generate large amounts of plastic waste yearly (over 300 million tonnes in 2019), cities in the global south remain disproportionately impacted as severe plastic waste leakage accumulates and pollutes the local (and consequently, global) environments. As these local environments already suffer limited waste disposal infrastructure and inadequate management techniques, alternative multi-sectoral approaches to ending plastic pollution need to be explored. Specifically, more grass-root, community-led initiatives need to be developed.

Community-based participatory research approaches engage community stakeholders as equal partners in the research process and ensure that the research empowers and benefits the host community. Research based within the community in this way combines both researcher and local knowledge, enabling access to social capital within the community. The data and findings obtained from CBPR reflect the heartbeat of the public and not just the ideas of the researchers alone. The aim is to ensure that research is holistic, relevant and meaningful, and that research outcomes have sustainable on-the-ground and grassroot impact.

This paper reports findings from CBPR conducted in three plastic pollution sites in lower middle income countries across the global south ( Mukuru slum, Nairobi, Kenya; Lamu archipelago, Kenya; slums and residential areas in Sylhet City, Bangladesh). The studies aimed to have a baseline understanding of KAB with regard to plastic consumption and disposal of persons living within the study sites.

Quantitative and qualitative data were obtained from a total of 1,066 residents (Mukuru =144, Lamu=723, 69% males, Sylhet=199) through surveys and focus group discussions (FGDs). The surveys were co-designed by academics, community-based organisations (CBO) and community representatives. Surveys were carried out by fieldworkers from the local community, with training provided by CBOs. Across the three sites, it was observed that over 90% of respondents viewed plastic waste as a problem, stating that the cleanliness of the environment was very important. They also significantly stated that they were very concerned about the impact of plastic waste on their environment, and were interested in learning more about their environment and pollution. A reasonable number believed that plastic waste is linked to air pollution and human and animal health problems. Participants had only fair knowledge regarding how plastic waste gets into the community (littering and dumping on land and rivers). Participants ascribed the major responsibility of ending plastic pollution to governments and local authorities and also stated that recycling bins, economic penalties, ban on single use plastics and return scheme policy are ways to end plastic pollution. The FGD discussions yielded useful information which aggregated into three overarching themes: communities are lacking in knowledge and want to understand more about the burden of waste; waste management infrastructure is lacking; systemic change is required, and legislation and collaboration are essential.

These findings highlight the relevance and need for effective evidence-based sensitisation campaigns in these regions. They also hold implications for policy and future research. Specifically, the findings offer information for the formulation of viable, community-led policies which are translatable to visible and measurable outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sept 2022
EventThe 7th International Marine Debris Conference - Busan, Korea, Republic of
Duration: 18 Sept 202223 Sept 2022


ConferenceThe 7th International Marine Debris Conference
Country/TerritoryKorea, Republic of
Internet address


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