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International Cooperation

EPA Collaboration with Sub-Saharan Africa

EPA’s environmental program in Sub-Saharan Africa is focused on addressing Sub-Saharan Africa’s growing urban and industrial pollution issues impacting people's health, particularly vulnerable populations such as children and the economically disadvantaged. Areas of focus include outdoor and indoor air quality, water quality, and exposure to toxic chemicals. 

Learn more about our key activities in Sub-Saharan Africa:


West Africa Drinking Water Laboratory Capacity Program: Internal Audit, Quality Assurance Manual and Workshop    

Laboratory microbiologists at the Ghana Water Company Limited prepare drinking water samples to be analyzed for total coliforms and E.coli, during their first internal laboratory audit. Results will be received within 24 hours.

May 2018: As a significant step in EPA’s efforts to strengthen laboratory capacity in West Africa, EPA mentored Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) as they performed their first internal laboratory audit.

Following the audit, EPA facilitated a workshop including more than 50 participants from seven Ghanaian government agencies -- including GWCL, Ghana Standards Authority, Ghana EPA, and the Ministry of Water, Works and Housing.  Other attendees included international organizations, universities, USAID, U.S. Department of State, and African Water Association (AfWA). 

The workshop shared current outcomes from the West Africa Drinking Water Laboratory Capacity Program, including improvements to laboratory processes following the technical training, the development of a Quality Assurance system and manual at GWCL, and a mentoring program for laboratory auditing established by AfWA. 

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Current Activities

Air Quality Management Planning in Africa

In urban environments, people and pollution often come together, requiring a concerted effort to reduce human exposure and health impacts.  Many of the most rapidly growing urban areas in developing countries experience significant health and climate impacts from air pollution, but have limited data, resources and capacity to address it. EPA’s Megacities Partnership assists targeted countries as they develop air quality management plans, using an approach that can be applied across cities in Africa and other areas around the world. 

Accra, Ghana

The first Megacity Partnership, in Accra, Ghana, showed how decision support tools, such as the Environmental Benefits Mapping and Analysis Program-Community Edition (BenMAP-CE) tool, could be used in a wide variety of situations to assess the health burden of air pollution and potential benefits of air quality improvement programs. Under the Partnership, Ghana EPA staff were trained to analyze the benefits of air pollution control, including healthier populations and economic productivity, and to compare costs to set priorities.  In addition, under the Partnership EPA is assisting Ghana EPA to manage their air quality monitoring data. 

EPA built upon Ghana EPA’s experience using air quality monitoring and analysis to strengthen their understanding of pollution sources and prioritize reductions. These priorities were then included in an air quality management plan that identifies areas for action, including revised national ambient air quality standards and vehicle emissions testing.  Many other African cities can usefully follow the Ghana EPA example of assessing air quality, understanding the benefits of taking action, and developing a plan to take action. This project serves as a replicable model for air quality management planning.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 

In the second Megacity Partnership in Africa, EPA is working to develop an integrated air quality action plan for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This work is being undertaken in collaboration with the Addis Ababa EPA; Ethiopian Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change; the Addis Ababa Mayor’s office and the Ethiopian Meteorological Agency. EPA will also collaborate with UN Environment on a technical training program to build capacity on air quality assessment and communications/awareness-raising.

Next steps include a review of available information to analyze the current health burden and priority emissions sectors. To begin this work, formal requests for data have been made with the Addis Ababa EPA.   

West Africa Drinking Water Laboratory Capacity Program

With funding from USAID West Africa, EPA is working with the African Water Association (AfWA) and Ghanaian stakeholders including the Ghanaian Ministry of Water, Works and Housing and the Ghana Water Company Ltd (GWCL), to build capacity of drinking water quality laboratories in Accra. EPA is providing training and technical assistance to utilities and those responsible for overseeing laws to strengthen capabilities of drinking water quality laboratories. Efforts have included support on laboratory auditing, quality control/quality assurance procedures and development of a Ghanaian Quality Assurance Manual that is now in use and can be used as a model for other laboratories in the region. 

In April 2016, the International Water Association (IWA), in cooperation with EPA, provided a Water Safety Plan training to Ghana Water Company, Ltd and other stakeholders in Accra. EPA lab experts provided presentations on how laboratory capacity fits into Water Safety Plan development, Quality Systems, and Traceability. 

This work continued with the West Africa Drinking Water Laboratory Capacity Validation Workshop, a stakeholder dialogue held in October 2016. Based on initial consultations, assessments and scoping activities, the workshop confirmed needed activities to support drinking water laboratory capacity, including training to assist the African Water Association (AfWA) in developing a cadre of auditors; training on quality systems, lab methods and data management; and the completion of a quality assurance manual for Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL). Immediately following the dialogue, an Auditing Training Workshop was held to assist AfWA in training auditors to assess the capacity of laboratories in West Africa. 

As a next step, in February-March 2017 EPA provided training to staff from the Ghana Water Company Ltd (GWCL), Ghana EPA, and representatives from other West African water utilities.  The training represented the first step in developing a Laboratory Quality Assurance Manual, which describes the quality assurance and quality control processes to be used by each laboratory.  The 4-day training course included presentations on topics related to specific sections of the Manual, followed by participants drafting specific sections, and laboratory demonstrations of techniques relative to the training topics.  

In August 2017, EPA continued training staff from the Ghana Water Company Ltd (GWCL), Ghana EPA and the Ghana Standards Authority in Accra, Ghana.  The 5-day training course, attended by 25 people, continued development of the Laboratory Quality Assurance Manual.  The training included presentations related to specific sections of the manual, trainee working group sessions to draft those sections, and hands-on laboratory demonstrations of techniques relative to the training topics.

Addressing Lead Paint in Africa

EPA is chair of the Advisory Council of the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead PaintExit which is working toward a goal of laws banning lead paint in all countries by 2020. 

During 2014-2017, four countries in Africa (Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia and Tanzania) participated in a project to work toward national legal limits to eliminate lead paint. This UN Environment project was funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented by IPEN.  

As part of this work, at an East African regional workshop convened in Ethiopia in December 2015, government officials from the 15 participating African countries agreed to work towards the establishment of national laws to limit lead in paint. A second workshop was convened in Tanzania in September 2016 to assist the East African Community in working toward a harmonized regional standard for lead in paint. A Central and West African workshop on lead paint was convened in Cameroon in December 2016, including countries from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). 

In Sub-Saharan Africa, Cameroon, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa have lead paint laws as of November 2017.

The UN Environment Program has received approval for a multi-year Global Environment Facility (GEF) project on Lead Paint. The project has two main goals: helping 40 countries to establish or improve lead paint laws and conducting Industry demonstration projects with small and medium size enterprises in 5-6 countries. Both goals include work in African countries.

 Global Methane Initiative in Africa

The Global Methane Initiative (GMI) is a voluntary, multilateral partnership that aims to reduce global methane emissions and to advance the abatement, recovery and use of methane as a valuable clean energy source.  EPA plays an active leadership role in the GMI.

Four countries in Africa (Cote-D’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana and Nigeria) are working through the GMI to better manage and work to reduce methane from municipal solid waste. 
Learn more about country projects on the GMI website:

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Past Activities

Good Environmental Governance

As part of its activities to strengthen environmental laws and regulations, build capacity for enforcement and compliance, and promote public participation in environmental decision-making, EPA supported the East Africa Network on Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (EANECE)Exit This work was undertaken in partnership with the International Network on Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE),  Exit DANIDA (the Danish aid agency) and the Kenyan Environmental Management Authority (NEMA).  Exit Activities included providing training support in launching the Network, support for a Network Coordinator based at NEMA, providing training and support in priority areas, and providing web-based and other relationship building mechanisms for experts in the region.

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Water and Sanitation

boy drinking water

EPA worked to improve public health through increasing the capacity of urban providers in Sub-Saharan Africa to deliver safe drinking water in a sustainable way through piped water supply systems, through the development and implementation of Water Safety Plans (WSPs). This work was conducted in partnership with the International Water Association (IWA)Exit the World Health Organization (WHO)ExitUnited Nations-Habitat Exit and local water utilities. The goal of the program was to establish a foundation to scale up WSP implementation across the Africa region to ensure that a significant proportion of urban populations in the African continent are consistently supplied with safe drinking water.

Project elements included the formation of nine Water Safety Plans through three Water Operator Partnerships (WOPs). The project also included WSP training and the development of an online Water Safety Portal for Africa. EPA and partner countries also created the Africa Water Safety Plan Network  with the mission to achieve reliable, consistent and equitable supplies of safe drinking water in Africa. Members included EPA, IWA, WHO, UN-HABITAT, Aquaya, the African Water Association, GIZ, and Cap-NET (UNDP). 

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Ambient Air Quality

Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles

EPA has been involved in improving vehicle fuels and promoting emissions control technologies to improve air quality in urban areas. As a founding Partner of the Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles (PCFV), EPA was involved in providing support to Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) in phasing out of leaded gasoline, which occurred throughout the region in January 2006. Building on this success, EPA worked through PCFV to support Sub-Saharan African countries to lower sulfur in fuels.

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Global Methane Initiative

Past activities in Sub-Saharan Africa under the GMI include: 

Accra, Ghana: EPA developed and implemented a project to address short-lived climate pollutant (SLCP) emissions from the solid waste sector in Accra. This project was conducted in collaboration with local government officials at the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), national government officials from the Ghana Environmental Protection Agency, representatives of private companies in the waste management sector, and other partners.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Under the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), EPA worked with local government officials at the City Government of Addis Ababa (CGAA) and other local partners to develop and implement a project to address SLCP emissions from the solid waste sector in Addis Ababa. Subsequently, EPA provided technical assistance and capacity building for the closure of the Addis Ababa dumpsite and the opening of their new sanitary landfill, in partnership with the Solid Waste Institute for Sustainability and the Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre (HoA-REC). The technical assistance included onsite training at the University of Texas Arlington and the City of Denton, Texas landfill.

Nairobi, Kenya: EPA worked with the GMI and the CCAC to provide technical expertise to support the Kenyan National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) to improve Kenya’s National Solid Waste Management Strategy. This work included a pilot to test implementation of the national strategy and design of landfill gas capture projects to reduce emissions.

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Toxic Substances: E-Waste

boy carrying electrical wires

In support of the goals of the National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship, EPA worked with partners in Africa to develop and support projects on the sustainable management of electronic waste, including:

Ethiopia: Through cooperation with the United Nations University Solving the E-waste Problem (UNU-Step), EPA worked in Ethiopia with government officials, as well as industry and NGO stakeholders, to strengthen the capacity of a demanufacturing facility that can safely recycle end-of-life used electronics.  

Nigeria:  In 2015, the UNU-StEP Initiative, with financial support from EPA and the German Senior Expert Service, launched a Person-in-the Port (PiP) Project in Lagos, Nigeria.  Through the PiP Project, a Nigerian e-waste expert collected qualitative and quantitative information on imports of electronics into the Port of Lagos over a period of 6 months.  This effort could serve as a model for countries with e-waste import problems that wish to gain a better understanding of the flows of used electronics and e-waste.

Learn more:

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For additional information about EPA's work with Sub-Saharan Africa, contact:
Teresa Kuklinski
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of International and Tribal Affairs (2670R)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20460
(202) 564-0246