When it comes to the sound management of chemicals and waste, Ghana is looking forward to becoming a role model for Africa. With three years of funding from UN Environment’s Special Programme on Institutional Strengthening for Chemicals and Waste Management, the government of Ghana seeks to develop and implement a five-year strategic action plan for the sound management of chemicals and waste which will ensure that the capacities of the Environmental Protection Agency and other relevant institutions are strengthened to adequately protect human health and the environment from adverse impacts of chemicals and waste.
Most importantly this project will ensure that all relevant stakeholders are involved in the project implementation and decision-making process which include the development of legislation and training and awareness creation on chemicals and waste. Of special interest are women, children and the elderly, who are often overlooked and yet are the most vulnerable to environmental threats. Sam Adu-Kumi, the Director of the Chemicals Control and Management Centre of the Environmental Protection Agency, reaffirmed the importance of mainstreaming chemicals and waste management into the national development agenda in ensuring that all stakeholders are on board.
“It’s important to mainstream gender issues in this process,” said Adu-Kumi. “We have a whole ministry for the protection of women and children. It’s important to bring them on board because chemicals and waste affects their health the most.”
In addition to developing the needed legislation and strengthening current institutional capacities, education and outreach will play a key role in Ghana’s strategy over the next five years. This will include the development of training programs and workshops for all stakeholders involved in managing chemicals and waste throughout the country.
Adu-Kumi stressed the importance of reaching out to Ghanaians at all levels of society, “We have to create awareness and educate the populations. As a developing country, face a lot of challenging issues, such as unsafe use and handling of pesticides. People don’t know much about the harmful effects of pesticides and their adverse impact on human health and the environment.”