The Management of Chemicals and Hazardous waste is a critical component of the EPA-SL strategy in ensuring effective protection of the environment and management of our natural resources. There is no doubt that chemicals play an important role in nature’s sustainability. However, when chemicals are mismanaged, it could have irreversible and catastrophic consequences on the environment as well as our wellbeing. The meeting was therefore part of a concerted strategy for the effective management of chemicals and hazardous waste within the sub region.
During the deliberations, the Executive Chairperson, Madam Haddijatou Jallow (Mrs) praised members of the ECOWAS region for such a laudable initiative towards ensuring the protection of the environment and its people. Madam Jallow also commended Chemical and Hazardous waste experts from member states for their efforts in prior deliberations on the draft strategic documents and action plan. Commendations were also extended to the Government and People of Cote d’voire for hosting this very important ECOWAS meeting.
Chairing the discussions, the Executive Chairperson provided an equal platform for all heads of environmental institutions within ECOWAS to make their inputs. Madam Haddijatou Jallow’s chairing of the meeting was greeted with commendations by the ECOWAS Commission, Ministers from member states, Chemical and hazardous Waste experts and international partners who saw the summit as a huge success. The Executive Chairperson also succeeded in ensuring that there was consensus from ECOWAS member states for the establishment of a regional emergency response program to incidences emanating from chemical mismanagement. The session also included discussions on high sulphur content in the air, promoting best practices in the fishing and used oil industries, elimination of Poly Chlorinated biphenyls and Electronic waste management. On this the Executive Chairperson also secured an agreement with all member states present on an ECOWAS roadmap. In furtherance of the above, Madam Haddijatou Jallow succeeded in convincing international partners (UNEP, UNIDO and the African Development Bank) who were also in attendance, to provide the necessary technical and financial support for the implementation of the action plan on Chemicals and hazardous waste within the ECOWAS region.
Consistent with the above, the EPA-SL, through the leadership of Madam Haddijatou Jallow, has implemented a number of measures for the effective management of chemicals in Sierra Leone. Series of trainings on banned chemicals and other hazardous substances have been conducted for customs officers in border posts. The Agency has also partnered with the Government Technical Institute (GTI) and has provided state of the art equipment and training to certified technicians. The Executive Chairperson has also provided immense support for the Chemicals department of the Agency for the effective implementation of best environmental practices in the management of chemicals and hazardous waste for the protection of human health and the environment of Sierra Leone.
Through the resilience of the EPA-SL, the government of Sierra Leone has signed and ratified a number of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) which provide the framework for a collective and sustainable management of chemicals and other hazardous substances in the country.