26 September 2013, Accra, Ghana - During the week of 23 September 2013, a number of key milestones were reached in the “GEF/UNITAR/UNDP/EPA-Ghana Project on Capacity Building for the Elimination of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) in Ghana”. In particular, the 9th session of the Project Steering Committee (PSC) convened on 26 September 2013, followed by a high-level sensitization event and press briefing for TV, radio and print media in Ghana. The high-level sensitization and press briefing events were organized in response to the recent project reviews that called for increased project visibility at the local level and for decision makers.
During the 9th PSC meeting, key decisions were adopted, including:
- Consideration and endorsement of the decision to undertake a single national disposal operation that includes PCBs, but also obsolete pesticides with POPs characteristics and ozone depleting substances as a way to save cost and time, as well as promote synergies.
- Further soil analysis should be conducted to determine the full extent of contaminated sites in Tamale and Tema PCB temporary storage facility.
- Expression of satisfaction with the progress made so far on the nation-wide PCB inventory and instruction that all inventory related activities should be concluded.
- Discussion on the activities to be included in the monitoring and evaluation reports.
During the High-level sensitization event, Dr Bernice Adiku Heloo, Deputy Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, acknowledged the lack of specific regulations on PCBs in Ghana and appreciated the efforts of this project to assist Ghana to meet its obligation under the Stockholm Convention on POPs, through the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), and Global Environment Facility (GEF). She said the project aims at strengthening the capacities and capabilities of stakeholders from both government and private sector to identify PCBS, manage existing sources as well as their elimination and destruction. Dr. Heloo also called on the media to help create awareness among the public on the adverse health and environmental effects of PCBs, and solicit their cooperation in eliminating them from Ghana.
Mr Daniel Amlalo, Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said the strategy includes strengthening the legal framework and the management capacity both within government institutions and among PCB holders. He stated that subsequent strategies for managing the PCB oils and PCB-contaminated equipment would be implemented to ensure that Ghana completely eliminates PCBs from the country: “Without appropriate policy and legal framework in place, it would be difficult to sustain the gains that would be made from the project. I am therefore, very glad that a draft policy on POPs and a draft bill for the control and management of POPs/PCBs have also been developed under the project”.
Giving the perspectives of the utility companies, Mr Emmanuel Amekor, Manager, Utility, VRA, said the three utilities (VRA, GRIDCo and ECG) had so far contributed about US$1.6 million in-kind towards the success of the PCB project.
This project is executed nationally by the Ghana Environmental Protection Agency (Ghana EPA) and internationally by UNITAR, with support of UNDP and financing of the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
For local media coverage of the event, please see links below.