11 Oct 2018 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 made significant efforts 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 has been expanding its oil and gas sectors in recent years, which has resulted in the accumulation of more chemicals in the air and on land from increased emissions. With limited capacity to monitor key chemicals, the country has had restricted 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 on Institutional Strengthening for Chemicals and Waste Management, a national, multi-sectoral project launched in 2017 addresses the country’s health and environmental concerns resulting from the sound management of chemicals and waste. The project is multisectoral, and aims to raise Tanzania’s institutional capacity to develop, monitor and enforce policy for the sound management of chemicals and waste throughout their lifecycle. The project’s steps to address these issues include: (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; and (v) enhancing institutional and stakeholder cooperation.

While Tanzania continues to build 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.

October 2018 project update

Since the establishment of the project, the Tanzania has been active in achieving the objectives of the project. The milestones that have been accomplished include:

  • As part of a first group of activities, a training workshop on chemicals and waste in the oil and gas sector has been conducted, and training materials have been prepared. Fifty-two technical officers from various regulatory authorities were trained in the first session. At least 30 officials from local government authorities which deals with issuing of trade licenses for chemical dealers were trained as part of a second training round, held in mid-October 2018.
  • Collection of information from relevant institutions, including government institutions, the private sector, universities and research institutions, non-governmental organizations, etc. is ongoing, while the primary review of capacity needs assessment has been completed.
  • Draft regulations on the control and management of mercury releases has been prepared. Stakeholders consultations to obtain comments on the draft regulations are planned.
  • A database framework, including information required to populate the database, user requirements, administrators and main stakeholders who will have access to the database have been identified. Developing of a web-based database on chemicals and waste is ongoing.