Baseline environmental requirements help reduce pesticide use in West Africa

FAO introduces new human and environmental standards for locust control operations in West and Northwest Africa.

Key facts

Many of the pesticides used in desert locust control pose a risk to the environment and to human health, even if they are used judiciously. To minimize the impact of pesticides use on human health and the environment, member countries of the FAO Commission for Controlling the Desert Locust in the Western Region (CLCPRO) established baseline environmental requirements that locust campaigns should comply with. The endorsement of the Human and Environment Standards by eight countries of the CLCPRO has allowed a better management of pesticide stocks, the mapping of sensitive areas and the use of biopesticides in the region covered by the Commission. Mali and Mauritania were among the first countries to meet the two most important requirements: developing their Pesticide Stock Management System (PSMS) and mapping of ecologically sensitive areas.

Pest control system helps data collection and sharing
Obsolete pesticides contaminating the environment pose a risk on the health of local people. In order to facilitate the collection and sharing of information on pesticide stocks movements and registration status of products in stocks, FAO developed the Pesticide Stock Management System (PSMS).

The PSMS is a country-level inventory of usable and unusable pesticides to be adopted by countries, particularly those affected by locusts.

In this respect, Mauritania is one of the first countries to have successfully implemented the web-based application which ensures the sound management and disposal of stocks and reduces over-supply of pesticides.

PSMS provides information on the quantity of pesticide stocks available in the country (by region, product type, production batch, active ingredients, quantity, quality, manufacturers, etc.), pesticides use (amount sprayed, target, location (geographical coordinates) of treatment, rates of application, processing equipment used, etc.) and empty pesticide containers. It incorporates a simplified and automated management based on barcode labels placed on packages.

PSMS facilitates the prioritization of pesticide stocks movement from countries having an excess of pesticides to countries that have an immediate need for them. Examples include transfers from Mauritania to Yemen and from Mali to Malawi and Mozambique. It also prioritizes pesticide usage by classifying the products into three categories (good, expiring, expired).

The database displays the certificates of conformity issued by laboratories which can transfer stocks to other countries and continents (triangulation or bilateral donation). It also warns about the expiration date six months in advance to let countries arrange for a compliance check.

By using the system, countries have been able to: (i) ensure traceability of their stock from purchase to the return and disposal of empty pesticide containers, (ii) be informed on the availability of pesticide stocks, their locations and compliance with FAO/WHO standards, and (iii) recover almost all empty containers at the end of locust campaigns.

Mapping of ecologically sensitive areas in Mali
Pesticide treatments used in desert locust control operations can pollute the environment and harm large numbers of vulnerable animal or plant species. The identification and mapping of areas particularly sensitive to pesticide contamination is important to ensure minimal environmental damage and impact on human health of such control operations.

To this end, the National Locust Unit of Mali has successfully achieved the mapping of ecologically sensitive areas - human settlements, wetlands, oases, protected areas, areas with a concentration of migratory birds and areas with a high or unique biodiversity - in 2012. 

Mali developed a tool for the mapping of ecologically sensitive areas and included it in the national environmental action plan. This plan restricts the use of pesticides in areas identified as sensitive to pesticide contamination.

The validation of this mapping tool in Mali was used as an example for other CLCPRO member countries to build their mapping systems.  

The mapping tool was also recently integrated into the Reconnaissance and Management System of the Environment of Schistocerca (RAMSES), a geographical information system used by national locust information officers to manage and analyze ecological, weather and locust data. This will allow locust units to avoid the treatment of sensitive areas during locust control operations and implement risk reduction measures.

This is the first time that such an important environmental and ecological aspect is taken into consideration by Locust Units.

*The CLCPRO is a regional commission for the sustainable preventive control of Desert Locust in West and North Africa.  It is composed of ten member countries: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Senegal and Tunisia.

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