Prevention and disposal of obsolete and unwanted pesticide stocks in Africa and the Near East



   In most developing countries, large stocks of obsolete pesticides have accumulated over the years as a result of prolonged storage or because they have been banned from use. Obsolete pesticides are hazardous waste. Owing to the absence of environmentally sound disposal facilities in developing countries, the quantity of obsolete pesticide stocks is constantly on the increase. Storage conditions rarely meet internationally accepted standards and drums are often stored in the open exposed to harsh weather conditions which accelerate the wear and tear of containers. Many containers deteriorate and leak their liquid contents into the soil, eventually severely contaminating groundwater and the environment while the powder contents of worn or torn bags and cardboard boxes are often dispersed into the environment by wind or rain. Most stores are in the centres of populated urban areas or close to public dwellings or bodies of water. The total quantity of obsolete pesticide stocks in non-Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries is estimated to be well in excess of 100 000 tonnes of which 20 000 to 30 000 tonnes are in Africa. A significant share of these stocks are leftovers of pesticides supplied under various aid arrangements. The problem is colossal and a concerted global effort is required to minimize the damage.
   In 1993, with financial assistance from the Government of the Netherlands, FAO started a project to develop strategies for addressing the problem of obsolete pesticide stocks. As part of this project, and as a result of its findings, a donor consultation was convened from 12 to 14 December 1994 to solicit cooperation from the international community.
   The three-day meeting was attended by representatives of donor countries, aid agencies and international organizations. Representatives of regional organizations in Africa provided an overview of the magnitude of the problem and FAO presented the first results of an inventory of obsolete stocks in Africa and the Near East. Disposal methods and strategies for the prevent of further accumulation were discussed, as were mechanisms for cooperation and coordination and the role of FAO as a clearing house. The attending agencies welcomed proposals for cooperation, coordination and a regular exchange of information. In a resolution the meeting called on governments and aid agencies to help prevent a further accumulation of stocks of obsolete pesticides and to assist countries to dispose of their present stocks .
   In the second half of 1995, FAO published guidelines on prevention of accumulation of obsolete pesticide stocks. Guidelines on the safe and environmentally sound disposal of obsolete pesticides, a collaborative effort of FAO, WHO and UNEP, are expected to follow soon.




Objectives of the meeting

 Opening address

 1 - The FAO Project for Prevention and Disposal of Obsolete Pesticide Stocks in Africa and the Near East

The project
The objectives

 2 - The situation with regard to obsolete pesticides in Africa and the Near East

Presentations by representatives of regional organizations in Africa and the Near East
Results of inventory of obsolete pesticides in Africa and the Near East

 3 - Presentations by agency representatives on pesticide disposal activities


 4 - Evaluation of recommended disposal methods

 5 - Activities of international organizations relevant to pesticide disposal

Basel Convention

 6 - Donor policies on pesticide donations: pest and pesticide management

 7 - Draft guidelines on prevention of accumulation of obsolete pesticide stocks

 8 - The role of fao in mechanisms for international cooperation

Global view of the pesticide situation
Scope for cooperation and coordination

 9 - Conclusions


1 Countries involved
2 Overview of disposal operations undertaken
3 FAO specifications for plant protection products
4 Guidelines developed in support of the FAO Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticide
5 Solutions to the pesticide treadmill that affects developing countries
6 List of participants at the consultation meeting



Danish International Development Agency


Directorate General International Cooperation


Desert Locust Control Organization for Eastern Africa


European Union


International Group of National Associations of Agrochemical Manufacturers


German Agency for Technical Cooperation


International Air Transport Association


International Civil Aviation Organization


International Maritime Organization


Integrated Pest Management


International Red Locust Control Organization for Central and Southern Africa


International Register of Potentially Toxic Chemicals


Non-governmental organization


Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development


Plant Protection Directorate


Ultra low volume


United Nations Conference On Environment and Development


United Nations Environment Programme


United States Agency for International Development


United States Environmental Protection Agency


World Health Organization


   Most developing countries are facing problems with obsolete stocks of pesticides that are regarded as a severe threat to the environment and public health. Safe and environmentally sound disposal facilities are rarely available in developing countries. Governments wishing to address this problem often lack standards and directions and, over recent years, FAO has been requested repeatedly by its Member States for advice. As a result of these requests a project, GCP/INT/572/NET, on "Prevention and disposal of obsolete and unwanted pesticide stocks in Africa and the Near East: Phase 1"was established with funding from the Government of the Netherlands. The aim of this two-year project is to lay a foundation for more comprehensive multilateral efforts. Project activities planned include:

   Factors contributing to the accumulation of obsolete pesticides include:

   The problem of obsolete pesticide stocks is far-reaching, global and urgent. Long-term effects may have widespread implications and incalculable adverse effects on human health and the environment. It is therefore necessary that this important issue be addressed without delay.
   It was against such a background that a consultation meeting was convened for donor agencies, relevant UN agencies and other international organizations.

Objectives of the consultation

The objectives of the consultation were to provide a forum for exchange of information and discussion and to enhance cooperation and coordination among agencies involved in pesticide disposal. In more detail the objectives were to:

   It is envisaged that a second consultative meeting will be held in early 1996.


   The Director-General of FAO invited relevant aid agencies and public international organizations. About 15 organizations attended the meeting and several others expressed interest but were unable to attend because of other obligations. A list of participants is presented in Annex 6.
   With the exception of three participants from Africa and the Near East, all participating organizations covered their own costs for attending the meeting.

Opening address

   The meeting was formally opened by Mr. Sombroek, Director Land and Water Development Division (AGL), who, on behalf of the Director-General of FAO, welcomed the participants and thanked the Government of the Netherlands for funding the meeting.

   "On behalf of the Director-General of FAO, Mr. Jacques Diouf, I wish to welcome you to the first FAO meeting on Prevention and Disposal of Obsolete and Unwanted Pesticide Stocks in Africa and the Near East.
There may be well over 100 000 tonnes of obsolete pesticides in non-OECD countries. These are no less than chemical time bombs. Leakage, seepage and various accidents related to pesticides are quite common and widespread. The implication to human health and the environment is potentially grave.
In Africa alone, up to 20 000-30 000 tonnes of obsolete pesticides are estimated to exist, excluding contaminated soil, materials and containers. This situation is both very grave and urgent. A concerted international effort is the only remedy both to clean up this situation and to avoid further accumulation of pesticides.
   A large proportion of accumulated obsolete pesticides in Africa are part of a series of consignments or donations that have become leftovers. Most of them could not be used because they were not needed at the time of import, their shelf-life had expired while awaiting pest outbreaks and so forth. Some are part of emergency assistance or are a component of aid arrangements not requested by the recipients. There is a whole range of collective responsibilities: the recipient governments, donor countries, aid agencies and agrochemical companies have all contributed in some ways. To alleviate this situation, a massive global mobilization of resources is needed. A consensus also needs to be developed on suitable, environmentally acceptable disposal strategies. At this stage, much interest, hope and commitment have been expressed in support of a global effort but only a few have taken initiatives for action on prevention and disposal.
At this juncture, I wish to take the opportunity to say that FAO would like to express its deep appreciation to the Government of the Netherlands for its financial support and for having made possible, through FAO, the beginning of international cooperation in the development of strategies for the removal of obsolete pesticides. This first meeting is the result of that support.
   I also wish to mention with appreciation the efforts made to date to remove obsolete wastes. These include the removal and safe disposal by GTZ/USAID and Shell Company of 56 000 l of Dieldrin from the Niger in 1991, the removal by FAO of 50 000 l from Uganda in 1993 and the removal and disposal of obsolete pesticides by GTZ from at least two countries in Africa.
   Obsolete pesticides are drawbacks to the development effort of many developing countries mainly because of lack of both resources and expertise. The removal of waste pesticides and their disposal in an environmentally safe manner may not be considered development-oriented. On the other hand, if people engaged in agriculture are affected, if the environment becomes hazardous and uninhabitable, if human life and animals are at risk, if water and soil are contaminated, development schemes are also bound to fail.
   Therefore, in view of the urgency, the global importance and the magnitude of the problem, FAO has convened this meeting to provide a forum for discussions and understanding, for the exchange of information and experiences and for the discussion of strategies for cooperation and coordination of activities, with the objective of saving resources and avoiding duplication of efforts.
   Once again, on behalf on FAO and the Director-General, I wish to express my thanks and appreciation for your patience, for the effort you have made to attend this meeting, for being ready to listen, to understand and to share the collective responsibilities, for being eager to realize the common problem which is important and for which we need common effort and commitment. Without these qualities, it will be difficult to make advances in solving the huge problem of obsolete pesticides.
   The information you may be exchanging with each other and the motivation and drive you may be experiencing during this meeting can be the foundation for the development of the global effort required to clean up pesticide wastes caused by human beings.
   I wish you a very successful meeting and a very enjoyable stay in Rome."