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EPA Efforts in 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, such as air quality, water quality, electronics waste and indoor air from cookstoves. EPA programs in Sub-Saharan Africa are designed to protect human health, particularly vulnerable populations such as children and the poor.
Learn more about our key activities in Sub-Saharan Africa:
Good Environmental Governance
Many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa are in the early stages of developing their environmental governance structures. EPA is focusing on strengthening environmental laws and regulations, building capacity for enforcement and compliance, and promoting public participation in environmental decision-making.
EPA is supporting the East Africa Network on Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (EANECE) Exit 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 Recent and planned activities include:
- Providing training support in launching the Network.
- Supporting a Network Coordinator based in Nairobi, Kenya, at the Kenyan National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA).
- Providing support to the national enforcement and compliance networks in the five member countries (Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya) to enable them to strengthen their domestic programs.
- Providing training in priority areas such as the principles of enforcement and compliance, environmental inspections, and criminal enforcement.
- Providing web-based and other fora to build relationships among experts in the region for enhanced cooperation and share knowledge and experience.
Water and Sanitation
Poor sanitation, unsafe water and unhygienic environments are a leading cause of illness and death among children in Sub-Saharan Africa. USEPA plans 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 is being conducted in partnership with the International Water Association (IWA), Exit the World Health Organization (WHO), ExitUnited Nations-Habitat Exit and the Kampala, Uganda, water utility, which has conducted a WSP, to develop water safety plans for other urban water utilities in East Africa.
Water Safety Plans are a comprehensive, “catchment to consumer” approach, which uses a health-based risk assessment methodology for identifying the greatest vulnerabilities for contamination within a drinking water supply system, thereby allowing the drinking water providers the ability to effectively operate and manage their systems and target their investments to gain the greatest health impact possible.
Water safety plans can also be seen as an adaptation of asset management that is used globally, primarily in developed countries, throughout the water sector, both for drinking water and sanitation.
The goal of EPA and IWA’s East Africa Water Safety Plan program is to establish a sound basis for scaling-up WSP implementation across the Africa region through the implementation of WSPs and the creation of long-term supporting mechanisms to ensure that a significant proportion of urban populations in the African continent are consistently supplied with safe drinking water through the implementation of WSPS.
Project elements include:
- advocacy, promoting and facilitating the implementation of WSPs in the region;
- communication and sharing of knowledge on WSPs within and beyond Africa, and,
- supporting and directing research to evaluate interventions by collecting, analyzing and disseminating independent and comparable data on issues related to WSP implementation.
An online Water Safety portal for Africa Exit has been developed that gives an overview of the Africa Water Safety Plan program and the Africa Water Safety Plan Network with case studies, tools and the Drinking Water Quality Knowledge and Advisory Service, a peer-peer online advisory service for water professionals.
Ambient Air Quality
Growing dirty transportation fleets, expanded and uncontrolled industrial production, and resource extraction are increasingly significant problems in Sub-Saharan Africa. EPA is 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 is working through PCFV to support Sub-Saharan African countries to lower sulfur in fuels.
Currently in SSA, sulfur levels range between 3,000 to 10,000 ppm which, particularly in diesel fuel, results in the emission of high levels of fine particulates which can be inhaled deep into the lungs causing cardiovascular and respiratory disease. SSA countries have now committed to reducing sulfur levels ultimately to 50 ppm, while at the same time promoting the use of vehicle emission technology.
EPA is assisting in the effort by providing funding, technical and policy advice and public outreach information to achieve this ultimate goal.
EPA is working with UNEP on eliminating lead in gasoline in North Africa, where several countries still use lead in gasoline. At the same time, EPA is providing assistance to the PCFV on promoting clean vehicles technologies, particularly the use of catalytic converters.
Clean Cookstoves and Indoor Air Quality
More than 450 public and private sector organizations working in 115 countries have joined the Partnership for Clean Indoor Air Exit and are contributing their resources and expertise to improve health, livelihood, and quality of life by reducing exposure to indoor air pollution, primarily among women and children, from household energy use.
EPA is a charter member of the newly launched Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (GACC) Exit . Over the next we months, GACC will integrate PCIA activities, giving GACC time to raise funds, hire staff and grow while PCIA continues to work with Partners to enable them to achieve their respective missions and goals. When the integration is complete, all PCIA Partners will be GACC Partners and GACC will build upon and rapidly expand upon both the ctiities and results of PCIA.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, PCIA is working to reduce the negative health impacts of indoor air pollution for the more than 75% of Africans who burn wood, charcoal, dung, crop residue and coal for their home cooking and (in some places) heating. EPA is currently managing scale-up projects in Ethiopia (Addis Ababa with Project Gaia) and Kenya (in Kisumu in Western Kenya with the NGOs Solar Cookers International and Practical Action).
Prior to these grants, EPA managed pilot projects in Mauritania, Nigeria, and Uganda. The goal of the pilots was to demonstrate effective approaches for increasing the use of clean, reliable, affordable, efficient, and safe home cooking and heating practices that reduce women and children's exposure to indoor air pollution.
Both the scale-up and the pilot projects:
- reduce exposure to indoor air pollution;
- improve awareness of the dangers of indoor air pollution and cooking alternatives;
- result in local artisans and entrepreneurs starting their own clean cook stove production and distribution businesses; and
- test, improve and market a number of clean technologies, including improved wood and charcoal stoves, and methanol stoves.
In addition to the above results, the pilot in Uganda with Ugastove was the first cookstove organization to be certified under the Gold Standard to receive voluntary carbon credits.
The Global Methane Initiative is an international initiative that advances cost-effective, near-term methane abatement and recovery and use as a clean energy source. The goal of the Initiative is to reduce global methane emissions in order to enhance economic growth, strengthen energy security, improve air quality, improve industrial safety, and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.
The Initiative now focuses on five sources of methane emissions:
- Agriculture (animal waste management)
- Coal Mines
- Oil and Gas systems
- Waste Water treatment facilities
The Partnership includes 38 Partner governments from around the world representing nearly 70% of anthropogenic methane emissions. There are currently three African Partners: Ghana, Ethiopia and Nigeria.
Toxic Substances: E-Waste
Sub-Saharan Africa is increasingly becoming a destination for used electronics, with little capacity to safely manage what legally or illegally enters the countries, as well as recycling the electronics that are being used within their borders once they reach the end of their useful life.
Open-air burning and acid baths used to recover valuable materials from electronic components expose workers and nearby communities to high levels of contaminants such as lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic. These exposures, which threaten vulnerable populations such as children and the poor, can lead to irreversible health effects, including cancers, miscarriages, neurological damage and diminished IQs.
In support of the goals of the National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship, EPA is working with partners in Africa to develop and support a pilot project on the sustainable management of electronic waste, including:
- Ethiopia: Through the UNU-StEP cooperation, EPA will initially work in Ethiopia with government officials, as well as industry and NGO stakeholders, to develop a plan for sustainability of a demanufacturing facility that can safely recycle end-of-life used electronics. Other efforts in Africa include strengthening efforts to improve information on the e-waste flows.
- West Africa: Additional capacity building will involve training local enforcement and customs officials, to develop a network of enforcement/customs officials in West Africa who will share information on illegal shipments to prevent port-hopping, and enhance regional cooperation overall.