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Mombasa-based environmental champion earns international award in Sweden

Omido's advocacy has resulted in the closure of the toxic smelting plant where she once worked, along with sixteen others across the country

2023 Laurete Phylis Omido

Mombasa-based environmentalist Phylis Omido has been recognized with the prestigious Right Livelihood Award for her remarkable efforts in advocating for environmental and land rights while setting critical legal precedents in environmental law.

Known popularly as 'Mama Moshi' by members of the Owino Uhuru community where she serves, Omido's journey as an environmental advocate began after her own harrowing experience working at a battery smelting plant that led to her, her son, and the Owino Uhuru community being poisoned.

Omido's unwavering advocacy has resulted in the closure of the toxic smelting plant where she once worked, along with sixteen others across Kenya.

Her use of litigation, advocacy, and media engagement in the smelting plant case has not only secured justice for affected communities but has also established critical legal principles affirming people's right to a clean and healthy environment.

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Beyond the confines of Owino Uhuru, Omido has extended her activism to empower others in protecting their communities.

She leads a network of 120 grassroots Land and Environmental Defenders spanning Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.

Currently, she is at the forefront of a campaign opposing Kenya's plans to develop nuclear power in Kilifi.

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In expressing her concerns about the proposed nuclear project, Omido emphasised the importance of preserving the livelihoods of fishermen and women dependent on carbon credits from the area's mangroves.

She firmly believes that Kenya possesses ample potential for renewable energy sources, making the adoption of environmentally harmful alternatives unnecessary.

"We have sunshine every day of the year. There is no excuse as to why we should go into something that is going to harm the environment," says Omido.

The Right Livelihood Award jury commended Omido for her groundbreaking efforts in securing land and environmental rights for local communities while advancing the field of environmental law.

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Her work has not only transformed the lives of her fellow Kenyans but has also inspired hope globally.

For over four decades, the Right Livelihood Award has recognized and supported individuals who courageously tackle global issues.

With 194 Laureates from 76 countries to date, the award has celebrated those who make a difference in the world.

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