12 Sep 2017 Story Chemicals & waste

Tanzania spearheads efforts to raise awareness of toxic chemicals

Agricultural and industrial workers are often part of the informal labour market and work in substandard conditions. These workers tend to be put at severe risk of acute poisoning and chronic illness from exposure to pesticides and industrial chemicals.

Despite the fact that the government of Tanzania has undergone significant effort to address the critical challenge of managing chemicals and waste, the level of awareness among the population of the adverse effects of chemicals remains low. Furthermore, the country is currently expanding its oil and gas sectors which results in more chemical accumulation in the air and on land from increased emissions. With limited capacity to monitor key chemicals, the country lacks the ability to develop suitable strategies for combatting the adverse impacts that chemicals and waste can have on human and environmental health.

Today, Tanzania is on the threshold of a singular effort to reverse the situation.

Bolstered by support from UN Environment’s Special Programme, a new multi-sectoral project will address the country’s health and environmental concerns resulting from them is management of chemicals and waste. The project is multi-sectoral and promises to raise Tanzania’s institutional capacity to develop, monitor and enforce policy for the sound management of chemicals and wastes throughout their lifecycle. The project will take several concrete actions to address these issues, including: (i) formulating a national strategy on chemicals and waste management; (ii) developing regulations for controlling and managing mercury; (iii) training regulatory authorities, agriculture extension officers and municipal councils; (iv) creating a national database on chemicals and waste; (v) enhancing institutional and stakeholder cooperation; amongst other issues.

While Tanzania will need to continue building capacity to address current and future issues, this project is expected to strengthen the country’s ability to protect its people and environment from the adverse impacts of chemicals and waste.