WINDHOEK: Namibia, like many other African countries, is lagging behind with the implementation of agreements to handle and manage hazardous chemicals and pollutants.
The Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism (MET), Pohamba Shifeta, raised this concern during a three-day regional workshop on chemicals’ legislation and chemicals management for African countries by the Africa Institute for Environmentally-Sound Management of Hazardous and Other Wastes here on Wednesday.
“We face challenges in many areas, including inadequate management capacity; inadequate legislative and regulatory systems; the overlapping and sometimes conflicting responsibilities between governmental institutions; skills and capacity constraints, as well as a lack of financial and other resources for the implementation of good practice approaches,” he stressed.
Namibia is a party to the Basel Convention on the management of hazardous waste and their disposal; the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants; the Rotterdam Convention on Prior-Informed Consent; the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer; and the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Shifeta said with the standard of living on the rise, there is also a boom in consumerism.
This means an increase in the sales of cosmetics, detergents and battery-based products, and these can pose major risks to both human and environment health.
He emphasised that while nations must welcome the positive role that many of these developments play in terms of generating employment and economic growth, they should remain aware of the need to minimise the harmful effects of products on the environment, water, soil and air.
At the same occasion, the Africa Institute of Environmentally-Sound Management of Hazardous and Other Wastes’ Director Dr Taelo Letsela raised the concern that electronic waste destined for Africa is classified as used goods, yet in reality some are already hazardous waste that should be subjected to the restrictions of the Basel Convention.
The Basel Convention strives to protect human health and the environment against the adverse effects of hazardous wastes.
According to Letsela, when this electronic waste arrives in Africa, it is the most vulnerable members of society who carry the biggest brunt of the impact as they scavenge for resources in an uncontrolled and usually unregulated electronic waste informal sector.
“Chemicals are part of our lives, and there are many risks involved. We need the political will to deal with the management of chemicals. Much needs to be done in Africa with the little resources we have at our disposal,” he stressed.
The regional workshop is being hosted by the MET, in partnership with the Africa Institute for the Environmentally-Sound Management of Hazardous and Other Wastes, as well as the Swedish Chemicals Agency (KEMI).
The main goal of the workshop is to strengthen the ability of these countries to manage chemicals in an environmentally-sound manner.
It is being attended by participants from Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia, and ends Friday.