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Saturday, January 28, 2023

‘Unprofessional use of chemicals in agriculture detrimental to health, environment’

Chemicals are important determinants for sustainable development, sound environmental health and quality of life. But while the use of chemicals in all our human activities including agriculture, health, manufacture contributes to improving the quality of life, it also levied its harmful effects through exposure on workers, consumers, the environment and society at large.

Omar Bah
Omar Bah

Omar Bah, Registrar of Pesticides and Hazardous Chemical at the National Environment Agency in The Gambia, made this revelation during a regional stakeholder training workshops for law enforcement officers and local communities on the Multilateral Environment Agreements (MEAs), recently held in Kerewan, NBR.

He noted that the accidental releases from the distribution, consumption and disposal of chemicals may permanently damage soil, water, air, and the ecosystem, not to mention human health.

He however noted that this is why the Gambia Government in partnership with UNEP Special Programme Secretariat is implementing the project as part of the implementation of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs),  Basel Convention on control of trans-boundary movement of hazardous wastes and their disposal, Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure, Minamata Convention on Mercury, and Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).

The Gambia, Bah noted, has ratified all the aforementioned conventions with the ultimate aim to protect human health and the environment. He added that The Gambia has recognised the need towards the development of an institutional framework for the sound management of chemicals and waste to enhance implementation at national level. In meeting her obligations under these Conventions, The Gambia had to prepare project proposal and submitted it to the Special Programme Secretariat for funding, he said.

Registrar Bah revealed that the objectives of the workshop is to sensitise stakeholders on the project and its activities, to encourage support, cooperation and commitment from the stakeholders for the implementation of the Project, and to foster inter-institutional and bi-lateral collaborations in the implementation of the MEAs. In addition, he said the objectives also includes enlightening of the people living in the country on sound chemical management.

The National Environment Agency, he posited, has targeted relevant stakeholders including law enforcement officers and community members which aimed at raising public awareness on the situation of chemicals and their related impacts levied on the environment and human health.

Furthermore, Bah outlined that some of the expected outcomes of institutional strengthening through this Special Project are to: promote the adoption, monitoring and enforcement of legislation and regulatory frameworks for the sound management of chemicals and wastes; as well as promote the mainstreaming of the sound management of chemicals and wastes into national development plans, national budgets, policies, legislation and implementation frameworks at all levels, including addressing gaps and avoiding duplications.

He concluded that his office has recognised the importance of the participation of law enforcement officers in realising the said outcomes, pointing out that the forum was held to gain deeper understanding of the chemical conventions since they impact on many sectors, including policy-making, law-making, environmental protection, and public health, industry and the private sector and various interest groups.

Speaking on behalf of the Governor of NBR Alh. Ebrima Dampha, the Deputy Chairman of Kerewan Area Council, Alpha Khan, reiterated and called on the safe utilisation of chemicals to protect human health and the environment. He called on the general populace to avoid buying and selling chemicals that are without labels and are most prevalent within our communities and our weekly local markets called “Lumos”.

Participants were drawn from all sectors of the law enforcement apparatus within the region and representative of the local populace.

By Sheikh Alkinky Sanyang

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