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Administrator Jackson Travels to Kenya and Ethiopia

In February 2011, U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson traveled to Kenya and Ethiopia to engage in bilateral and multilateral meetings aimed at building relationships with key African counterparts and other world environmental leaders on behalf of the United States.

The week-long stay included representing the US at the 26th United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Governing Council Meeting and Ministerial Environment Forum. Exit EPA disclaimer Administrator Jackson’s trip highlighted priority issues for the U.S., including improving children’s environmental health, ensuring good environmental governance, and supporting environmental innovation and technology.

In Kenya and Ethiopia, Administrator Jackson furthered key Africa programs of the U.S. State Department, US Agency for International Development (USAID), Peace Corps and the Centers for Disease Control, through meetings and events focused on electronic waste, enforcement and compliance, clean cookstove technology, and clean fuels.

Administrator Jackson’s visit and meetings highlighted and advanced EPA’s international priorities and strengthened U.S. relationships with environmental counterparts in the Kenya, Ethiopia and other partner nations.

Some of the highlights of Administrator Jackson’s engagement included:


Administrator Jackson interacts with dignitaries and children in the Karura Forest.


Urban Ecology in Kenya

Administrator Jackson visited the Karura Forest in Nairobi, joining U.S. Ambassador Michael Ranneberger, Green Belt Movement representatives, the Kenya Forest Service, Friends of Karura Forest, U.S. Peace Corps and USAID in celebrating the renewal of the area.

The event highlighted Karura Forest, a newly restored natural haven within the city of Nairobi with walking trails and an education center, and the work of the Green Belt Movement in planting trees throughout Kenya. Jackson helped showcase the tree planting efforts of USAID and Peace Corps by planting a tree in the forest.

Awarding Promising Environmental Journalists

Administrator Jackson joined UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner in awarding the inaugural Young Environmental Journalist Award for Africa. The prize was awarded to Patricia Okoed-Bukumunhe, a broadcast journalist from Uganda.

Ms. Okoed-Bukumunhe was granted an interview with Administrator Jackson and will go on a study tour to the United States. Administrator Jackson recognized the important role journalists play in protecting human health and the environment.

Meeting with Environmental Ministers from Across Africa

Administrator Jackson met with Ministers of Environment from ten African countries, representing the 5 sub-regions of Africa, and an African Union Commissioner. Discussions included ideas on environmental challenges, successes, priorities, and opportunities for future collaboration.

Jackson shared EPA’s top six international priorities with the ministers, and the ministers shared their environmental priorities, which ranged from climate change, biodiversity, desertification, children’s health, environmental governance and indoor air quality.

Speaking with Women Leaders of Tomorrow

Administrator Jackson participated in a panel on Women in Science, addressing graduate students, faculty, and staff at Addis Ababa University. Administrator Jackson joined Drs. Yalemtsehay Mekonnen, Eleni Gabre-Madhin, and Emebet Mukugeta in discussing challenges facing women in science in Ethiopia, obstacles to attracting women into the science faculties, and success stories and opportunities. She also had the opportunity to greet the students and answer questions.

Dr. Yalemtsehay is the first female professor at Addis Ababa University and member of the newly established Ethiopian Academy of Sciences.


EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson (center) helps plant a tree in the urban Karura Forest in Nairobi to commemorate the inauguration of the forest as a recreational and tourism facility.

Tackling Environmental Challenges with the Peace Corps

Administrator Jackson met with U.S. Peace Corps Environment Volunteers in Ethiopia to discuss clean cookstove use at their project sites. 31 Americans were sworn in as Peace Corps Environment Volunteers in Ethiopia in 2010, and all were trained on technical aspects of cookstoves during their orientation. Administrator Jackson made remarks, along Peace Corps Country Director Nwando Diallo, on the enhanced EPA-Peace Corps partnership.

The two agencies recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding and are exploring ways of cooperating on clean cookstoves and other environmental protection issues, both in Africa and globally.

Peace Corps volunteers also participated in a tree planting at the Karura Forest in Nairobi, Kenya during the Administrator’s visit to Kenya. Each Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya is planting 50 trees to celebrate Peace Corps 50th Anniversary.

Addressing Electronic Waste

Administrator Jackson visited a state-of-the-art Computer Refurbishment and Training Center (CRTC) and electronics demanufacturing facility outside of Addis Ababa. Jackson toured the facility, and pledged EPA support for the facility to Ethiopian Minister of Communications and Technology Debretson Gebremichael and the Ethiopian Environmental Protection Authority (EEPA).

Cleaning up e-waste is one of EPA’s international priorities. Jackson encouraged Ethiopia’s proactive effort to address e-waste as a model for the region.

Promoting Clean Indoor Air

Administrator Jackson participated in a demonstration of clean cookstove technologies at the Good Shepherd Sisters’ compound in Addis Ababa, and visited a local neighborhood to observe cookstoves in use in local households.

Administrator Jackson highlighted the U.S. government’s efforts to work with Ethiopian, non-governmental organizations, the United Nations, and other partners to promote the use of clean cookstoves through the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and through the work of U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers based in Ethiopia.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 95% of Ethiopia’s population uses biomass fuels for heating and cooking. Approximately 50,000 deaths and 4.9% of the national burden of disease in Ethiopia are attributed to smoke exposures associated with solid fuel use.


OITA AA Michelle DePass and UNEP Executive Achim Steiner pump low-sulfur (500 ppm) diesel fuel at the U.N.’s Nairobi Campus.

Recognizing Kenya’s Switch to Low Sulfur Fuels

Michelle DePass, EPA Assistant Administrator for International and Tribal Affairs, represented EPA at an event recognizing Kenya’s transition to imports of diesel fuel with no more than 500 parts per million (ppm) of sulfur. This is a dramatic decrease from fuel with up to 10,000 ppm sulfur, which is the most commonly available in African countries.

Lower sulfur fuels, especially when combined with the use of clean vehicles technologies, significantly reduces fine particulates from diesel fuels that are breathed deep into the lungs and cause respiratory illness and early death. The event highlighted the success of the Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles, for which EPA is a founding partner and key architect.



Back to: EPA's Programs in Africa


For additional information on EPA's work in Africa, contact:

Cristina Mercurio
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of International and Tribal Affairs (2670R)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20460
E-mail: mercurio.cristina@epa.gov
(202) 564-6481

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