By Jefferson D. Tweh
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in collaboration with the Green Cross Switzerland and the United Nation Environmental Program (UNEP) have trained hundreds of Custom Officers in Monrovia, from the 15 counties on sound management of Persistent Organic Pollutants.(POPs)
The two days’ training is aimed at capacity strengthening and technical assistance for the implementation of Stockholm Convention of National Plans in African Least Developed Countries of the West and Central Africa (ECOWAS) sub-region.
Speaking at the opening of the workshop in Congo Town, the Head of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC), Mr. John Y. Gayflor said the Environmental Protection Agency has played significant role in the country and urged the participants to take the workshop seriously. “Please do all you can to acquire knowledge from this workshop and make use of what has been acquired, “Mr. Gayflor admonished the participants.
Also speaking at the workshop, the Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Madam Anyaa Vohiri disclosed that the workshop for Custom Officers on the sound management of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) under the project,” Capacity Strengthening and Technical Assistance,” for the Implementation of the National Plan (NIP) of the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) in the Least Developed Countries (LDCS) of the West and Central Africa.
The EPA Director further stated that the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that 3 million people are poisoned by pesticides each year and that most of these are in developing countries and 20,000 poisoning victims die every year.
According to Madam Vohiri, exposure may be oral, dermal or inhaled and those casualties include working directly with POPs and other chemicals, and accidental exposure might occur with custom officers, children and lack of understanding, training and protection are the major causes of these happenings; therefore the workshop is very essential because it aims at capacity strengthening to train custom officers in the sound management of POPs.
Madam Vohiri noted that the chemical control procedures are not adequate and have to be improved; therefore information handling and storage at border points of entries in Liberia will be assessed, and identification of the nature of chemicals is a problem and this will be assessed and limited assessment and monitoring of chemical activities are serious gaps in chemical management and solution will be found on how to tackle these problems.
Madam Vohiri added that EPA took sound management of POPs and other chemicals very important while considering sustainable development and that EPA will pursue all avenues to effectively mainstream chemicals in the development plans of Liberia.