13 February 2014
Over the next two and a half years, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) will provide technical assistance to Belarus in managing its stocks of obsolete pesticides. The effort is part of a joint plan with the European Union, launched in 2012 throughout the former Soviet Union, to build capacity to minimise the threats from hazardous waste to human health and the environment, as well as to strengthen legislation and build capacity in the management of pesticide containers.
An estimated 200,000 tons of obsolete pesticides (around 40 per cent of the world’s stockpiles) can be found in thousands of unprotected sites in Belarus and the 11 other former Soviet republics, according to the FAO. These sites “pose a serious threat to peoples’ health and the environment”. According to the World Bank, there is significant risk that pesticides could pollute the groundwater in parts of Belarus, affecting well water, along with rivers and other bodies of water in the entire region.
The UN agency will first identify and assess the most highly contaminated sites in the country. In addition to also mobilising resources for risk reduction, the plan also promotes alternatives to the most hazardous chemicals in use.