Funds Found to Rid Seven African Nations of Obsolete Pesticides

WASHINGTON, DC, October 3, 2005 (ENS) - The first phase of a $60 million effort to eliminate all stockpiles of obsolete pesticides from the African continent has been approved by the World Bank Board of Directors, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Africa is estimated to have between 15,000 and 20,000 tonnes of pesticide waste. Virtually every country in Africa has stockpiles of obsolete pesticides that have accumulated over the past several decades.

Many of these chemicals and their containers are in poor condition, threatening local and regional environments and human health through contamination of soil, water, air, and food. The Africa Stockpiles Programme intended to eliminate these pesticides and help countries prevent future build-ups.

“The Africa Stockpiles Programme is an unprecedented partnership,” said Ian Johnson, World Bank vice president for sustainable development, “between African countries, donor governments, civil society, and multilateral organizations – all of whom have agreed to cooperate in this comprehensive effort to eliminate the accumulation of obsolete pesticides."

The partnership includes nongovernmental organizations such as WWF and the Pesticides Action Network-Africa as well as the governments of countries such as Japan, Norway and Canada.

The Africa Stockpiles Programme was initiated with strong country support by WWF and Pesticide Action Network (PAN) in late 2000. It is a multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to tackle pesticide pollution through the clean-up and disposal of over 50,000 metric tons of obsolete pesticide waste stockpiled across the African continent.

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Map shows where the highest concentrations of obsolete pesticides are thoughout Africa. (Map courtesy FAO)
The first phase of four years will be implemented through a strategic partnership focusing on seven African countries - Ethiopia, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Tanzania, Tunisia, and South Africa.

"This partnership addresses a serious and growing public health and environmental danger which confronts nearly every country in Africa," Johnson said.

“PAN UK and PAN Africa are delighted that the Africa Stockpiles Programme has been given the final go-ahead,” said Eloise Touni, PAN UK’s coordinator for the Africa Stockpiles Programme.

“NGO groups throughout the continent – among the over 700 members of the international PAN – have been expressing concern about obsolete pesticides since the early days of Africa Stockpiles Programme planning, and have repeatedly confirmed their commitment to positive action. NGO networks have been, or are being, established in all seven first phase countries, ready to support their national projects – particularly in helping to ensure that stockpiles do not reappear.”

On September 8, two Global Environment Facility grants – $1.7 million to South Africa and $4.0 million to Tunisia – were announced by the World Bank in its capacity as an implementing agency for the GEF. These two grants are part of a total $25 million contribution from the GEF for the first phase of the program.

“GEF is proud to be a partner in the Africa Stockpiles Programme. This effort is critical to the health of all Africans and the integrity of the continent’s environment,” said Len Good, GEF chairman and CEO. “This programme is part of GEF’s strategy to help countries reduce and eliminate releases of dangerous toxic chemicals and develop safe alternatives.”

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Conducting inventory of obsolete pesticides in Mozambique. Baythroid in drums in foreground. (Photo by Jane Worner courtesy Pesticide Action Network UK (PAN))
The other funders to the overall $60 million programme include the African Development Bank, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, European Commission, Food and Agriculture Organization, Finland, France, Japan, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, and the World Bank Development Grant Facility.

The World Bank will administer the majority of funds supporting the program. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will serve as the lead agent in delivering technical advice and support to countries involved.

“The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has worked for over a decade to raise global awareness to the critical and worsening situation created by obsolete pesticide stockpiles in developing countries, particularly in Africa,” said Mark Davis, coordinator of the FAO Obsolete Pesticides Programme.

“Funds have been secured and action taken to deal with obsolete pesticides through FAO programmes in several African countries, including Ethiopia, Mali, Mozambique, Seychelles, and Zambia," said Davis.

"Acting alone," he said, "FAO was never going to overcome the problem in Africa or elsewhere on the globe. With the Africa Stockpiles Programme now in place, the existence of a dedicated fund, with a multi-partner and multi-country focus, provides a much firmer foundation for cleaning up and destroying the stockpiles, and helping to prevent future accumulation.”

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Obsolete pesticide container badly rusted in Mozambique (Photo by Jane Worner courtesy PAN UK)
“The World Bank Board’s approval of the Africa Stockpiles Programme is a big step forward,” said Clifton Curtis, director of WWF's Global Toxics Programme, “opening the door to on-the-ground cleanup and destruction of obsolete pesticide stockpiles in seven African countries initially and help in preventing future accumulations in Nigeria and several other countries."

Africa Stockpiles Programme partners have been talking and planning for the start up of the operational program for nearly five years.

"It is exciting to know that major cleanup and destruction of stockpiles will now begin in earnest," said Curtis, "contributing to improved public health, poverty reduction, and environmental safety – critical elements of sustainable development.”

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Cypermethrin is contained in this obsolete pesticide container in Mozambique (Photo by Jane Worner courtesy PAN UK)
The private sector is represented by the agricultural sciences corporation CropLife International.

CropLife International, on behalf of a group of manufacturers of crop protection products, said September 9 that it is contributing to the destruction of more than 800 metric tons of obsolete pesticides, mainly owned by the government of Ethiopia.

"CropLife International is proud to be part of the ASP,” said Christian Verschueren, director general of CropLife International. “The plant science industry has unique experience and expertise in dealing with the removal of obsolete pesticide stocks. We share the vision and objectives engrained in the ASP and are committed to participating in the achievement of its important goals.”

Eight other countries are candidates for preparatory and prevention activities as the Africa Stockpiles Programme moves toward a second operational phase in three to four years. The phase II nations will be chosen from these high priority countries - Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Lesotho, Liberia, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sudan, and Swaziland.