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The least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing States (SIDS) in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sub region (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo)1, and Chad, Mauritania, Sao Tome and Principe and the Central African Republic are among the poorest in the world. Poverty levels in the sub region range from 20% of the population living on less that USD1 per day in the Central African Republic, to 84% in Liberia (African Development Bank,2010).

Clear links have been established between poverty and increased risks of exposure to hazardous chemicals and waste, as it is predominantly the poor who routinely face unacceptably high risks because of their occupation, living situation and lack of knowledge about the detrimental impacts of exposure to these chemicals and wastes. Low income neighbourhoods are often located around industrial areas and waste dumps; this makes the poor the first to suffer from accidents or the adverse environmental impacts of factories‟ operations (or environmental „externalities‟) (UNEP, 2010).

Despite the direct relationship between the sound management of chemicals and the protection of human health and the environment, and the prevention of poverty, these links are often overlooked in development planning and prioritizing.

Despite completing their National Implementation Plans (NIPs), the countries in the ECOWAS sub region, together with Chad, Mauritania, Sao Tome and Principe and the Central African Republic lack the financial capacity to match the GEF potential funds and the administrative capacity to design activities and attract co-finance to sustain their global role in the elimination and reduction of POPs. Therefore a regional programmatic approach is needed to maintain the momentum of the national coordination structure mechanism built during and by the NIP development process, to support a collective action, build national capacity, and enhance mainstreaming of chemicals issues into the work of national governments.

Based on extensive regional and sub regional consultations and review of countries NIPs, UNEP and UNIDO have identified six areas in which these countries require assistance. These are: legislative and regulatory reform; enforcement and administrative capacity; information exchange and dissemination; identification of contaminated land; reduction of exposure to POPs and uPOPs emitting sources at workplace and open waste burning; and introduction of BAT/BEP in industrial production processes. UNEP and UNIDO have developed an Africa-wide programme that will address these areas of concern. The programme: “Capacity Strengthening and Technical Assistance for the Implementation of Stockholm Convention National Implementation Plans (NIPs) in African Least Developed Countries (LCDs)” w was implemented on a sub regional basis with projects developed for the COMESA, SADC and ECOWAS sub regions respectively. In each sub region UNEP and UNIDO will have separate but complimentary projects based on thematic areas of comparative advantage. UNEP is proposing to implement the components on legislative and regulatory reform, enforcement and administrative capacity, and information exchange and dissemination. UNEP is the lead agency and will also implement the monitoring and evaluation plan. UNIDO will implement the: identification of contaminated land; reduction of exposure to POPs and uPOPs emitting sources at workplace and open waste burning; and introduction of BAT/BEP in industrial production processes components.

 In close cooperation with UNIDO, UNEP were implement the programme activities from 2010 to 2015. The activities are designed to increase the capacity of key government agencies, provincial level government staff, agricultural workers, academia, research institutes, the private sector, as well as participating stakeholders in civil society, and specifically at the community level.

Furthermore activities were  also be undertaken to raise awareness of the judiciaries in order to increase understanding of the importance of environmental law and the chemicals and wastes conventions This project proposal covers the proposed UNEP activities for the ECOWAS sub region under the broad programme themes of legislative and regulatory reform, enforcement and administrative capacity, and information exchange and dissemination. All the project activities were identified through extensive consultation with countries from the sub region, the ECOWAS secretariat, regional bodies, civil society organisations and the private sector. All lessons and resources developed as part of the project was be shared and made available on a web-based knowledge management platform. Such a platform will provide the opportunity for increased south-south cooperation.      

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