ROME, 18 September -- The amount of
toxic waste stemming from obsolete pesticides in Africa is
higher than previously estimated, the UN Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) said in a statement today.
"Every African country has stockpiles of
obsolete pesticides and associated waste such as heavily
contaminated soils and millions of containers. FAO estimates
that the toxic waste in Africa alone amounts to around 120 000
tonnes, with more than 500 000 tonnes worldwide," said
Alemayehu Wodageneh, FAO expert on obsolete pesticides, on the
occasion of an expert meeting in Rome. FAO previously estimated
the amount of obsolete pesticides in Africa at around 50 000
seriously threaten the health of both rural and urban
populations, especially the poorest of the poor, and contribute
to land degradation and water pollution," Wodageneh
said. An estimated 30 percent of the waste is believed to be
persistent organic pollutants (POPs).
nearly a decade, less than 5 percent of the estimated stockpiles
have been disposed of. FAO successfully concluded the disposal
of close to 3 000 tonnes in more than 10 countries in Africa and
the Near East in close collaboration with bilateral partners.
FAO's biggest clean-up project, in Ethiopia, currently aims
at the removal of over 3 000 tonnes.
Despite the committed efforts of FAO and others to
address the problem, obsolete pesticides continue to accumulate.
"In some countries we have been very successful in
linking the removal of pesticide waste with the improvement of
pesticide controls and the promotion of sustainable pest
management alternatives. Unfortunately, on a regional or global
level, it is probable that stockpiles of obsolete pesticides are
growing more quickly than they are being alleviated,"
In many developing countries,
management of pesticides is often inadequate due to a lack of
resources. Many of these countries suffer from weak import
controls, poor storage and stock management, and a lack of
training in appropriate pesticide use. Over the past years, FAO
has trained thousands of plant protection experts in pesticide
control and management.
Since no adequate
hazardous waste destruction facilities exist in Africa, waste
has so far been shipped to a developed country for
high-temperature incineration at an average cost of US$3 500 per
tonne of waste.
The condition of
obsolete pesticide stocks varies from well stored products that
can still be used in the field, to products that have entirely
leaked from corroded steel drums and other containers into the
In many cases products are stored in the open
where they are exposed to great temperature fluctuations and
other damaging conditions, which accelerate the deterioration of
the pesticides as well as their containers. However, even where
storage conditions are good, the length of storage and the
nature of the products have resulted in container corrosion and
The recently launched
'Africa Stockpiles Programme' (ASP) aims to clear all
obsolete pesticides and contaminated waste in Africa in the next
10-15 years and to promote prevention measures and capacity
building. The total funds needed to cover the ASP costs is
expected to be US$200-250 million.
partners of this multipartner initiative include financial
institutions and specialised agencies (among others the African
Development Bank, chemical industry, FAO, the Global Environment
Facility, Pesticide Action Network, UN Environment Programme, UN
Industrial Development Organization, the World Bank, World Wide
Fund for Nature/WWF). FAO will play a key role in the technical
aspects of the clean-up operations.