GIS - June 19, 2012: The Minister of Local Government and Outer Islands, Mr Hervé Aimée, launched a regional training workshop on the Trans-Boundary Movement of Hazardous Chemicals and Wastes yesterday at the InterContinental Hotel, Balaclava.
This three day workshop is organised in collaboration with the Africa Institute for the Environmentally Sound Management of Hazardous and other wastes, and the Swedish Chemicals Agency (KEMI). Delegates from eight member countries of the Africa Institute namely Botswana, Lesotho, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia are attending.
During his speech, the Minister stressed that many African countries had recourse to the use of large quantities of chemicals to control pests and boost agricultural productivity. He added that many countries in the region have to import large amounts of various types of chemicals for industrial, domestic and agricultural purposes. According to him, “due to lack of knowledge on environmentally sustainable alternatives and proper quality control of agricultural products, our farmers have greatly increased their use of chemical-based insecticides, herbicides and fungicides.” It is estimated that some 50,000 tonnes of unused and unwanted pesticides and associated wastes have accumulated in Africa over the last 40 years.
The Minister also stated that such chemicals may have harmful effect on workers, consumers and the environment, if they are not properly handled and managed. Conventions are necessary but not sufficient to prevent the occurrence of illegal trafficking chemicals in the continent and ensure sound management of chemicals and wastes, he further added. “For Conventions to be effective and operational, we require effective knowledge transfer and capacity building. Our borders will be porous as long as there are legal deficiencies and lack of trained personnel, laboratories and control. All the parties to the Conventions need to translate these efforts through national laws, rules and procedures”, he said.
The workshop is one of the four capacity building regional training workshops conducted jointly by the Africa Institute and KEMI. The workshops are conducted as part of the chemicals management support programme implemented by Africa Institute together with KEMI in English Speaking African countries served by the Institute.
The programme aims at strengthening countries within the region to control and manage in an environmentally sound manner the movements of chemicals in the context of multilateral environmental agreements that they are parties to. The focus of the project is to cover chemicals in the broadest sense but more specifically the Basel, Stockholm and Rotterdam Conventions.
Dr Taelo Letsela, Executive Director of the Africa Institute and Mr Bengt Meisater from KEMI also addressed the participants.