Half a million tonnes of obsolete pesticides are scattered throughout the developing countries and the emerging economies. These toxic chemicals, often stored outdoors in leaking containers, are seeping into the soil and water.
According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) around 200 000 tons of obsolete pesticides can be found in twelve of the former Soviet Union republics. Kept in tens of thousands of unprotected sites, they pose a serious threat to the health of the people around them and to the environment. It is for this reason that the European Union (EU) and (FAO) have formed a partnership with twelve countries in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. The four-year partnership launched at FAO’s headquarters in Rome, Italy, on April 12th will assist these countries in managing their vast stocks of obsolete pesticides.
The project is also intended to build capacity, for example in the areas of legislative reform, pesticide registration processes, the promotion of alternatives to the most hazardous chemicals in use and the development of communication strategies to raise awareness among farmers and the public. In addition, the project hopes to find ways to avoid a build-up of additional stockpiles in future.
The EU is contributing six million euros to the initiative, and FAO, which is to act as implementing agency, has allocated one million euros in funding.
This initiative aims to act as a catalyst for the development of obsolete pesticide and hazardous waste management in the region, by helping provide the resources needed for technical and policy support to enable countries to help themselves.