Plastic-Recycling – Ecoboats with Madiba&Nature in Cameroon

About the Project


Every day, around 1300 tonnes of plastic waste is generated in Cameroon’s coastal city, Douala. The lack of a recycling system and an absence of environmental awareness has led to a city landscape flooded in plastic waste. This is negatively affecting not only the natural environment but also the lives of many people. The congested waterways and heavily polluted rivers within the city cause floods and carry many waterborne diseases.

Who we support:

To tackle this environmental challenge, entrepreneur Ismael Essome founded the organisation Madiba&Nature. The young founder recruits volunteers to clean up the city and uses the plastic bottles they collect as a resource for building fishing boats. Each Ecoboat is made up of 700 bottles and a length of rope and is assembled using the techniques of the traditional fishermen. The Ecoboats are sold at an affordable price, a replacement for expensive traditionally made canoes and ensure a food supply for poor families dependent on fishing. So far, 150 Ecoboats have been built, reusing 5000 kilograms of plastic waste.

In order to increase the efficiency of plastic waste collection and to overcome dependency on volunteers, the project has set up Ecobins along main roads and at schools, cafes and beaches. These garbage containers, constructed of metal and plastic, can collect and hold up to 1000 plastic bottles without the need for a waste collecting workforce. This attempt at fighting marine pollution is the first incidence of a circular economy recycling scheme in the country.

What we do:

Technology Without Borders will support Madiba&Nature with ideas for the development of the project. Our first goal is to work together on upgrading the Ecoboats by refining their structure. This will alter the centre of gravity of the boats, increasing their lifespan and improving passenger safety. To do this, we will set up a cooperation with the engineering faculty of the University of Douala. The aim is that student engineers, keen to work on an environmental project, will reproduce and test the Ecoboat 2.0 as part of a workshop with Madiba&Nature.

Our second goal is to support Madiba&Nature with tools and raw materials to give Madiba&Nature the ability to continue their projects independently. The first part of this includes raw materials and a welding station to produce more Ecobins. This will result in an increase in bottles collected, enabling the production of more Ecoboats. The boats will be a good alternative to costly canoes,  enabling economically disadvantaged communities to reach self-sufficiency through selling and consuming fish. Increased visibility of the Ecoboats has the further positive impact of raising awareness within the population about single use plastic and the advantages of re-using materials.

The streets of Douala are filled with many different types of plastic waste. By supplying Madiba&Nature with a manual baling machine any plastic which is not used for boats will be compressed and sold on for further processing. The revenue will be used to expand on their plan to move into eco-tourism and ecological education promotion. The Ecoboats have become a small attraction for tourists on the southern coast of Cameroon. Alongside this, the team of M&N has spoken at several schools and universities about the importance of recycling and environmental protection.

We are aiming for our Ecoboat workshop to take place in the summer 2021 and for the minimum fund goal to be reached by autumn 2021. A team of three experienced colleagues of Technology Without Borders will be implementing three separate projects in Cameroon in November and will have the capacity to touch base with Ismael to review the success of the project.

Sustainable Development Goals



Project number

Project Leader

Andre Eichmann

Regional Groups

  • Rhein-Main

Project members

Edgar Tagheu
Ismael Essome

Project Category



May 2021 - now

Project stage



News from Cameroon


News from Cameroon

Our member Edgar has just come back from a preliminary exploration of our fourth project in Cameroon and is enthusiastic about what has been set up there by a few young entrepreneurs.    Over the coming months, Technology without…