NAIROBI, Kenya — Zareen Bandhoo was at work last week in the central Mauritius town of Curepipe when she heard that oil was spilling from a ship into the island nation’s pristine lagoons.
In the days since, as Mauritius has confronted one of its worst environmental disasters, Ms. Bandhoo has been hard at work. She has donated money and food for cleanup operations, and has teamed with friends and colleagues to help limit the damage to the island’s picturesque coast. Together, they made makeshift booms from fabric and sugar cane leaves to contain the oil, collected hair and plastic bottles to absorb and clean up the slick, scrubbed contaminated beaches, and raised awareness online about the extent of the damage.
Their efforts are representative of the grass-roots initiatives undertaken by Mauritians amid mounting anger and frustration that officials did not act soon enough to address the spill — even though the Japanese-owned bulk carrier ran aground on a coral reef off the Indian Ocean island on July 25.
“This could have been avoided,” said Ms. Bandhoo, 24, who works as an assistant in a food supply business.