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A Toxics-Free Future



Phyllis Omido walks through the village of Owino Uhuru. She has been keeping a close eye on the lead exposure that has plagued this settlement since a nearby smelter began operations in 2007.

By Bukola Adebayo, CNN

A Kenyan community whose children and residents were sickened by lead from a battery smelting plant has been awarded $12 million (1.3 billion Kenyan shillings) following a civil lawsuit.

(Bishoftu, Ethiopia) – The IPEN Anglophone Africa Region held a Regional Meeting from 4 - 5 February 2020 in Bishoftu, Ethiopia. The meeting was attended by 32 participants representing 24 Participating Organizations (POs) from 13 countries: Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

Dr. Tadesse Amera, IPEN Co-Chair, welcoming participants to the meeting. To his left are Pamela Miller, IPEN-Co-Chair, and Björn Beeler, IPEN International Coordinator.

IPEN’s 2020 Global Meeting and Forum on Chemicals and Waste took place in Bishoftu, Ethiopia, from the 6th – 10th of February. More than 100 environmental, health and human rights leaders from over 50 countries came together to share the work they do locally and globally to ensure a just and healthy future for everyone by eliminating harm to human health and the environment from toxic chemicals.

by Faridah Hussein Were
Lecturer, Department of Chemistry, University of Nairobi

Africa is facing a serious lead poisoning problem. In Senegal, for example, researchers linked the deaths of children from processing lead waste to supply a lead battery recycling plant in a poor suburb of Dakar.

In Kenya, the legacy of a shutdown lead-recycling plant is causing major health problems for people living in the neighbourhood. And in Nigeria an investigation by journalists showed how lead battery recycling facilities were poisoning workers and the people living in the area.

The problem is growing along with the market for lead batteries. This is due to lack of regulation and investment in environmentally sound battery recycling plants. Most facilities in Africa are small. They weren’t built with adequate pollution controls to prevent disasters and ongoing contamination.

The production of lead batteries is growing rapidly in Africa as the market for lead batteries expands. Global lead output continues to grow, with about 85% production going to make batteries.

We conducted a study around lead battery recycling plants in Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania and Tunisia. Our results showed significant lead contamination around 15 licensed battery recycling plants. This shows that informal sector recycling is not the only source of lead pollution.

By Boris Ngounou

The third Conference of the Parties to the Bamako Convention, held in Brazzaville from February 12 to 13, 2020, expressed the wish for a more efficient organisation of waste management. The challenge is to systematically prevent the import of toxic waste into Africa.

The Bamako Convention is not really applied in Africa, even 22 years after its entry into force. This treaty of African nations prohibiting the import into Africa of any type of hazardous waste (including radioactive waste), still remains an illusion for most countries on the continent.

“Chemicals are now everywhere and necessary for our daily lives. They are used in the majority of productive sectors and are exploited to solve several problems related to improving the quality of our lives. Of the 5 to 7 million known chemical substances, more than 80,000 are used by companies in their production processes and operations,” said Arlette Soudan-Nonault, Minister of Tourism and Environment of the Republic of Congo and new current president of the Bamako Convention, whose third conference of the parties was held from the 12th to the 13th of February 2020 in Brazzaville, on the theme: “Working for Africa with a safe future for chemicals and waste”.

Nigeria and Japan have undertaken a waste management initiative aimed at obtaining information of mercury emission and release from landfill facilities.

Ahead of a major survey scheduled to hold by January 2010, consultants, civil society organisations, government officials and representatives of the Japanese government have commenced moves to actualise the scheme.

Report shows paints being sold in Kenya in 2017 had dangerously high amounts of lead