TANZANIA and other African countries have expressed concern over the European Union’s proposal to recycle products containing toxic flame retardants into new products such as children’s toys, food containers and soft furnishings.
“We do not want toxic chemicals recycled into toys for African children and we do not think EU children should be playing with them either,” said Prof Jamidu Kitima from Tanzania in a statement made available to this newspaper.
Prof Kitima, the Chairman of Agenda for Environment and Responsible Development- AGENDA, said at a UN meeting of chemicals treaties in Geneva, Switzerland recently that Africa is already receiving e-waste from all over the world under different disguises.
“If the EU proposed standards are adopted, they would increase our toxic burden,” warned Prof Kitima in the wake of the EU push of dangerous clean-up standards for three toxic flame retardant chemicals widely used in building insulation, upholstery and electronics. All three toxic chemicals are listed in the Stockholm Convention for global elimination.
They are ubiquitous in the environment globally and can disrupt human hormone systems, creating potential adverse effects on the development of the nervous system and children’s IQ.
The EU proposal will allow toxic recycled products to be used by EU consumers and then exported to developing countries as waste, transferring the toxic burden from richer countries to poor countries where the capacity to deal with contaminated waste is limited and where they will potentially add to health problems and hamper poverty reduction.
Jindrich Petrlik from Arnika Association in Czech Republic said, “As an EUbased public interest NGO we find it shameful to see the EU violating the integrity of the Stockholm Convention and putting economic interests before human health and the environment. This is poisoning the circular economy.”
Follow Alive2Green on Social Media
By Lennie Bazira Kyomuhangi-Igbodipe and Linn Dorin
Over the last decade, there has been a gradual, yet significant shift in the way large international donors give foreign aid in countries like Nigeria. Increasingly, major development donors, such as the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, have begun giving money directly to developing country governments and local non governmental organisations, NGOs.
Often referred to as “aid localisation,” this movement bypasses traditional international NGOs to directly empower grassroots organisations; ensuring aid reaches its intended recipients.
Amref Health Africa, a non-profit organisation with a focus on women and children that is committed to improving the health of Africans by partnering with and empowering communities, is one of many NGOs across Africa and South Asia that has experienced the impact of aid localisation.
Localised aid has dramatically changed the way these organisations operate, mostly in a positive way. With the right investment in local NGO capacity, localisation of aid can yield positive results in the long term. In addition to the benefits, the increase in direct funding from major donors has also created some unintended challenges.
Operational & financial burdens
For example, localisation has imposed new operational and financial burdens on aid recipients, many of which have gone unnoticed by international donors.
These include responsibilities related to grant applications and reporting systems – the responsibilities once typically handled by international NGOs, but now passed on to local partners.
These responsibilities have proven to be challenging for lots of in-country NGOs. Many do not have the strong operational systems needed to comply with the reporting demands. According to a new report surveying development experts, as many as 97 percent of aid recipients describe grant compliance – the process of tracking grant activities and budgets and adhering to donor compliance guidelines- as a growing burden.
This burden has increased demand for an already limited number of skilled operations and finance professionals, having predictable effects. Often, NGOs will recruit and train local administrative staff in financial and marketing tools, only to have them leave for higher-paying positions in the corporate sector.
Amref Health Africa has experienced these operations challenges and pressures. As the impact of aid localisation began to be felt, Amref Health Africa invested in tracking employee hours and allocating resources to build a team for grant applications.
Dividends: While this requiredsignificant upfront investment, these systems are now paying dividends, allowing new grants and improved efficiency. Amref Health Africa is also sharing lessons and helping to strengthen local operational and financial capacity by sharing its own innovation initiative, known as Organisational Development and Systems Strengthening, ODSS.
While this is a success story, many smaller NGOs are struggling. The global community must act now to empower on-the-ground organisations that can help smaller NGOs meet the changing requirements, so they can continue to improve health and economic growth within their communities. But if we don’t address these challenges as a community, the overall effectiveness of aid will suffer.
Creative responses are already being seen around the world, led both by international and in-country NGOs. International groups are creating local affiliates within countries, investing in the operations and systems capacity of their grantees, and building regional technical support hubs.
Developing country organisations are beginning to build their own internal capacity to manage these funds while also considering outsourcing operations tasks, employing local fiscal agents, and establishing partnerships with private accounting firms.
While these changes are helping, more needs to be done to ensure that the localisation of aid has the greatest positive impact. Donor harmonisation – the aligning of grant requirements across many donors – would be a good first step.
Long-term effects: While the long-term effects of localisation are still largely unknown, it is critical that the international community takes action to build local capacity on-the-ground. Ensuring that developing country organisations are equipped with the resources, talent and tools they need is critical to helping us all reach the ambitious development goals we’ve set.
Lennie Bazira Kyomuhangi-Igbodipe is the Interim CEO, Amref Health Africa, while Linn Dorin is the Principal of Global Finance Strategies.
Source: All Africa
Attend the Food Security Seminar in June. Book your seat here
Follow Alive2Green on Social Media