Benin is eager to put behind its past of chemical mismanagement. Numerous cases of toxic poisoning and pesticide-related deaths have been reported since the 1990s. At its peak, a study carried out from January 2001 to July 2003 by PAN UK in co-operation with PAN Africa and the Benin Organization for the Promotion of Organic Agriculture (OBEPAB), reported 347 cases of toxic poisoning due to pesticides, of which 53 resulted in death. Benin has since become a Party to the Basel, Rotterdam, Stockholm, and Minamata conventions and has worked to protect both its people and the environment. However, as one of the world’s least developed countries, Benin faces multiple challenges. Inadequate institutional capacity, technological barriers, and economic problems continue to threaten Benin’s ability to manage chemicals, in particular pesticides, and waste.
Funded by the Special Programme Trust Fund in its inaugural round of applications, a new project to support legal and institutional capacity will strengthen Benin’s resolve and ability to address these issues. Currently Benin lacks a database on chemical substances and systematic controls of chemicals and waste. They have an outdated system of monitoring chemicals and insufficient public and stakeholder awareness of chemical-related risks. Benin’s project will address all of these problems and more. The government will develop regulatory measures on imported chemicals, strengthen national legislative frameworks on waste management, and establish national budget provisions for the implementation of chemical management policies. These concrete actions will help Benin in implementing its provisions in multilateral environmental agreements and strengthen the country’s ability to address the pressing challenge it faces in managing chemical pesticides.
Image: Soil contaminated by the disposal of obsolete pesticides and empty pesticides packages in Benin Republic