By Alfred Koroma
Sierra Leone’s head of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), Dr. Bondi N Gevao has warned that the country is not practicing a good waste management.
Waste management is a major challenge in Sierra Leone, especially in urban settings. The country lacks the required landfills and storage facilities to manage waste, largely causing uncontrolled waste dumping and open-air burning of solid waste.
“We are not practicing good waste management in this country. Our waste is not being managed properly. We typically dump and burn our waste, releasing toxic chemicals into our atmosphere, or into our water,” the EPA Boss said.
Dr. Gevao was speaking on Friday during an inception workshop on EPA project on chemical and waste management. The project which is funded by SAICM or the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management is designed to help address the challenges involved in chemicals and waste management in Sierra Leone.
EPA organized the one day workshop to launch the project, establish the Chemicals and Waste Management Committees, and review their tools and terms of reference. Several stakeholders from various Ministries Department and Agencies participated in the interactive workshop.
In his statement, the EPA Head, Dr. Gevao also stated that there is an ongoing misuse of chemicals and pharmaceuticals such as Kush and antibiotics in the country. He pointed at instances where chemicals banned in other countries being imported and used in Sierra Leone.
A market survey conducted by EPA, he said revealed that people still import banned refrigerants, lead and other products banned in other countries. “We are happy receiving end of life computers, expired pharmaceuticals; these are the problems we are facing as a country.”
Sierra Leone imports several chemical products for various uses in textiles industry, agriculture, cleaning industry, mining industry, hospitals, etc., but proper management of the imported chemicals has been an issue, as some are mostly misused by locals.
Chemicals are produced for useful purposes. But when misused, it becomes a problem, Dr. Gevao said, stressing on the harms misused chemicals can caused.
“If we don’t manage our chemicals properly; we don’t manage our waste properly, we are going to end up affecting the health of our community,” he warned.