By Isatou Jawara
“The Gambia government has shown full time commitment to the protection of the environment as a vital component of sustainable development. In line of this, the government of The Gambia has partnered with development partners such as GEF and UNEP in the implementation of Stockholm, Basel and Rotterdam Conventions. These three Conventions address chemicals management through cradle-to-grave approach, mostly comprehensively in the case of POP,” said the acting executive director of NEA Mr Momodou Suwareh.
He mentioned this at the review experts meeting of the draft pesticide and harzardous chemicals control and management Bill 2007. The purpose of the meeting is to seek expert opinion on the pesticide and harzardpus chemicals control management and to prepare action plan prior to the adoption of the Stockholm and Rotterdam conventions.
“The Government of the Gambia ratifies the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in June 2003. It’s a global treaty signed by 181 states parties. The Basel convention on the Control of tans boundary movements of Hazardous wastes and their disposal and the Gambia became a party since 1997.
“The Rotterdam on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) is based on the principle of Prior Informed Consent that international shipment of chemicals that are banned or of severely restricted to protect human health and environment should not proceed from one point to another without the agreement of both parties. The Gambia became a member to this convention in 2004”he noted.
“Persistent Organic Pollutant (POPs) are group of organic synthetic chemicals that are very persistent, very toxic, bio-accumulative and they travel very far within the Environment. They cause detrimental acute and long term effects to human health and the wildlife. They also affect the environment we live in,” he said.
Mr Suwareh added that the ratification of these conventions are all geared towards mitigating the serious health and environmental problems caused by hazardous chemicals.
“The Gambia is a predominantly anagricultural country and depends heavily on pesticides and plant growth regulators to enhance agricultural productivity to control pest. But it also recognize the need to control and advocate for sound use of chemicals as inscribe in the Strategic Approach for the Integration Chemical Management (SAICM) approach.
“The Pesticide and Hazardous chemicals control and management Act 1994 was developed prior the adoption of the said Conventions. This Act has aged for more than two decades and many chemical related issues have emerged during this time which are not dealt with its provisions. Therefore the need for it be revised and updated is prudent in other to strengthening our national legal capacity towards chemicals management and control,” he added.
Speaking further, Mr Suwareh said that the Act will be revised and updated soon after the adoption of this bill. He said the the project will help The Gambia in the revision of this and its adoption shall be embarked nationally.
“ The Pesticide and Hazardous chemicals control and management Act 1994 has been a reference material for many countries and Sub regional bodies within Sub region amongst them is the CILLS due of its comprehensive nature and therefore updating it will only add value and strength to it.
“I also want to thank the legal consultant and team for their effort and I also have no doubt that the legal consultant and the technical team has done justice to the documents. I hope that the experts present here today will put up a comprehensive scrutiny of the bill as it is a national document and our collective effort to protect our health and the health of generations yet to born and the environment we live in,” he concluded.
Mr Omar Bah, the Registrar of Pesticides and Harzardous Chemicals at NEA also spoke at the event.