Ethiopia pesticide cleanup under way, needs funds
ROME - The removal of pesticide waste in Ethiopia is well under way and a first phase should be completed by June 2002, but more funds are needed to finish the job, officials said yesterday.
"We should have 1,500 tonnes packaged and ready for incineration by next June," said an official with Finnish hazardous waste treatment company Ekokem.
An official with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), who is familiar with the operation, agreed that work to clear the initial 1,500 tonnes was on schedule.
But he said more funds were needed to remove at least 1,300 tonnes of remaining waste around the country.
"Completing the operation depends on whether we get the extra money," he told Reuters by telephone from Addis Ababa.
After packaging, the waste will be shipped to Finland where it will be incinerated.
FAO and the Ethiopian government have asked Finnish authorities for financial aid to remove the remaining dumps and are awaiting a reply, the FAO official said.
Ekokem began the cleanup operation in Ethiopia in April. Donations by the U.S., Dutch and Swedish governments are enough to dispose of 1,500 tonnes, but there have been no pledges so far to cover the removal of the remainder.
The U.N. estimates that more than 2,800 tonnes of obsolete pesticides have accumulated at 949 sites across Ethiopia, threatening the health of thousands of people.
Pesticides usually have an expiry date of two years after manufacture. Yet waste has accumulated in Ethiopia over more than 30 years, Ethiopian and FAO officials said.
They said the build-up was due to bad management of pesticide deliveries by the government and donors, and unscrupulous marketing by the chemicals industry of pesticides that were in many cases not needed.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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