Development Challenge /Background
It is well known that the exposure to Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) can lead to serious health effects including certain cancers, birth defects, dysfunctional immune and reproductive systems, greater susceptibility to disease, and damages to the central and peripheral nervous systems. The Stockholm Convention on POPs has been established based on the consideration that, given the long-range transportation of POPs, no one government acting alone can protect its citizens or its environment from POPs.
PCBs are among the most toxic POPs listed in the Stockholm Convention. The so-called dioxin-like PCBs are characterized by a toxicity and environmental persistence that is very similar to that of dioxins. Based on the re-assessment of scientific evidence, PCBs have recently been re-classified as class 1 carcinogens by the International Agency for Research of Cancer (IARC-WHO). Although PCBs were mostly used in closed systems, like transformers and capacitors, very often such equipment is recycled at the end of its operational life and the PCB oil contained therein can be either directly disposed of in the environment, recycled, or even sold as fuel oil.
Release of uPOPs (PCDD/F, HCB) from the improper management of municipal and hazardous waste (e.g. through open burning and low-technology incineration) is also widely recognized as a global problem, which may only be addressed by adopting a holistic approach involving the full life-cycle of materials and substances. One of the main sources of uPOPs releases (as well as releases of other toxic compounds) is the open burning of waste, including at landfills. Reducing releases of uPOPs from this source requires an approach based on a number of factors, such as a reduction of the amount of waste generated, proper segregation of waste, reuse and recycling whenever possible, and adoption of proper disposal technologies.
Aware of the adverse human health and environmental impacts of POPs, both at the national and global levels, and the need for concerted action to address such impacts, the Gambia signed the Stockholm Convention in May 2001 and ratified the instrument in April 2006. Subsequent to the ratification of the Stockholm Convention, the Gambia, in response to Article 7 of the Convention, developed its NIP, which was submitted in March 2009. The Gambia is currently updating its NIP, with the financial support of GEF and UNEP as the implementing agency. PCB management and uPOPs reduction are among the top priorities for the country according to the NIP, and corresponds to the Stockholm Convention targets including the safe management of PCBs by 2025 and continuing minimization and, where feasible, ultimate elimination of unintentionally produced POPs.
The results of the 2003 and 2017 preliminary PCB inventories in the Gambia indicate that a comprehensive inventory will need to be conducted on all potentially PCB-containing electrical equipment in the Gambia’s electric power and electric utility system (run by NAWEC). This is confirmed in recommendations presented in the 2009 and draft updated NIPs. Due to the absence of PCB-related data, either on the equipment’s nameplate or contained in the equipment’s manual, PCB concentrations have not been determined or characterized for most of the equipment inventoried during the preliminary assessments. In addition, the date of 1990 has been used as cut-off date (i.e. transformers manufactured after 1990 were not tested), which means that cross-contamination through maintenance of post-1990 transformers is not accounted for. Therefore, the lack of adequate data on PCBs, the existence of potentially significant PCB releases from use, stockpiles, and waste, and the need to phase out and dispose of PCBs and equipment are major problems that have been prioritized for action. Sampling all of the transformers in the Gambia would provide precise figures regarding PCB and PCB-contaminated transformers in the country.
Regarding uPOPs, the Gambia’s NIPs list uPOPs management as a priority area of concern. Vulnerable social groups and the environment are heavily exposed to harmful emissions including uPOPs from open burning of municipal solid waste. For example, waste scavengers, for which the “dumpsite economy” is the only source of income, are heavily exposed to various chemical pollutants and biological hazards. The first inventory of uPOPs in the Gambia was prepared for the year 2000 and identified uncontrolled burning as the major source of releases of uPOPs. Open burning of domestic waste (at dumpsites and at homes) and agricultural residues is a common practice in the country, and additional uPOPs are released from natural forest and bush fires.
The following are the barriers that need to be addressed to ensure the environmentally sound management (ESM) of PCBs and reduction of uPOPs:
- Lack of specific legislation on POPs: Preliminary assessments of PCBs and uPOPs in the Gambia have shown a presence of appreciable amounts of these chemicals and have identified several gaps and limitations. For example, as outlined in the NIP: the National Environment Management Act (NEMA) of 1994 does not contain provisions for control of production or use of chemicals listed in Annex A II and Annex B III of the Stockholm Convention; there is no specific regulation under the Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides Control and Management Act (HCPCMA) of 1994 regarding the management, handling, phase-out, and disposal of PCBs and PCB-contaminated material; there are no specific provisions under the Hazardous Chemicals Regulations 1999 to control the import or export of the chemicals (other than pesticides) listed in Annex A II and Annex B III of the Stockholm Convention; the Environmental Management Discharge Permit Regulations 2001 under NEMA 1994 do not require the use of BAT and BEP for new installations; there are no specific provisions for disposal of chemicals listed in Annex A II and Annex B III of the Stockholm Convention in the NEMA 1994, HCPCMA 1994, or enforcement regulations; and the 2007 Waste Management Bill does not address the reduction of uPOPs. Therefore, key management provisions need to be developed and incorporated into existing or new regulatory measures.
- Lack of appropriate waste management and disposal infrastructure including interim storage facilities for PCBs: Presently, there are no adequate facilities in the Gambia for hazardous waste disposal. There is also a lack of adequate interim storage facilities for PCBs. For example, the NIP states that “adequate storage conditions for PCB-containing equipment are not adhered to at the National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) […] The two facilities (Half Die and Booster) are not adequate for safe storage. The oil is left in the transformers and no proper arrangements made to address leakage. The environmental risk due to the two storage facilities requires urgent attention”. (The Half Die site was recently remodelled and now is used as accommodation for military personnel.)
- Absence of ESM practices for PCBs and uPOPs: Limited institutional capacity along with a lack of regulations and sustainable funding have contributed to the inadequate management of PCBs and uPOPs emissions in the Gambia. For example, uncontrolled burning of waste accounts for more than 98% (105 g I-TEQ/yr) of the national total release of uPOPs, as per the 2009 and draft updated NIP.
- Contaminated sites: Article 6 of the Stockholm Convention requires a Party to develop appropriate strategies for identifying sites contaminated by POPs chemicals (Annex A, B, and C Chemicals of the Stockholm Convention) and to undertake remediation of contaminated sites in an environmentally sound manner. Though not conclusive, the updated preliminary inventory on contaminated sites in the Gambia identified two sites that require site management plans including remediation measures. For example, at the Booster Workshop and its Storage Facility, a facility where transformers (including PCB-containing transformers) are serviced, maintained, and stored, there are no best practices in place. As a result, leaked transformer oil pollutes the area. The proximity of this workshop and storage facility to the sea further compounds the risks; rain and sewerage water runoff into the sea are common. Therefore, there is an urgent need to conduct environmental and social risk assessments and management plans for the sites and develop corresponding contaminated sites management plans.
- Low awareness levels: Despite efforts deployed during the 2009 NIP development and 2017 NIP updating, current levels of awareness on the adverse effects of PCBs and uPOPs remain low. Workers and the public are generally not aware of the adverse effects to human health and the environment of PCBs and uPOPs, nor are they aware of fitting ESM practices. Therefore, there is a need to develop a comprehensive awareness raising strategy, covering PCBs and uPOPs reduction/improved waste management targeted at key stakeholder groups and population groups at risk, such as PCB-holders, maintenance workers, waste management workers, as well as, in particular, women of child bearing age.
Baseline scenario or any associated baseline projects
The Gambia conducted a national preliminary inventory on PCB-containing electrical equipment in 2003 and undertook updating in 2017, covering all relevant equipment within NAWEC, which has sole responsibility for electricity generation, transmission, and distribution nationwide. A total of 294 transformers have been inventoried, however, testing for the presence of PCBs was limited to transformers manufactured before 1990 because the transformers manufactured after 1990 were deemed to be PCB-free. Four transformers labelled with the trade name ASKAREL were considered to contain 100% PCBs (weight of oil 1.8 t). Test kits were also used to identify possible contamination of transformer mineral oils by PCBs: 19.8 t of transformer oils were identified as PCB-contaminated and 37.7 t were assumed to be PCBs-contaminated (they could not be tested due to inaccessibility). In total, 59.3 t of possible PCB-contaminated oil was identified, in addition to the weight of the transformers. Transformers manufactured after 1990, which have not yet been tested, may also be PCB-contaminated from cross-contamination during maintenance. Since the 2003 preliminary PCB inventory, the number of transformers has doubled to approximately 600.
Regarding uPOPs, vulnerable social groups and the environment are heavily exposed to harmful emissions including uPOPs from open burning of municipal solid waste and agricultural biomass. The first inventory of uPOPs in the Gambia was prepared according to the UNEP Toolkit for the Identification and Quantification of Dioxins and Furans, and identified PCDD/PCDF releases in the Gambia for the year 2000 (107 g I-TEQ/yr for air releases). Uncontrolled burning was identified as the major source of releases accounting for more than 98% (105 g I-TEQ/yr) of the national total. Power generation and cooking, the second major source of releases, contributed about 2% to the national total. The contributions of the rest of the categories to the national total were relatively insignificant. The 2017 NIP update project also revisited the uPOPs inventory to identify additional sources of uPOPs, particularly in the informal sector, which has grown with the Gambia’s population increase in recent years. The findings and related proposed actions are in line with the first NIP and 2000 preliminary uPOPs inventory. However, it is worth noting that the updated uPOPs inventory reports that “with the establishment of more than 28 medical waste incinerators by a sponsored project under the National Nutrition Agency, across health facilities in the country without proper EIA conducted, the potential discharge of dioxins and furans is expected to increase from 2015”.
The NIP update project confirmed that uncontrolled open combustion in dumpsites remains the first priority problem to be addressed in the Gambia in terms of uPOPs emissions. Waste is not separated into its various categories or components before final disposal, and very often healthcare waste or any other kind of hazardous waste are mixed together and dumped with municipal waste and this represents a significant risk to human health. Regarding dumpsite fires, there are two dumpsites: Mile II and Bakoteh. The two sites contributed 6.8% to the national total of PCDD/PCDF releases. Municipal waste is also burned at home. For example, in 2000, 195,677 tonnes of domestic waste were generated in the Gambia and only 68,146 tonnes or 34.9% were dumped at the landfill sites; 42.4% of the domestic waste was burned at home. Regarding other sub-categories, 465,000 tonnes of agricultural residues were burned as well as 343,434 tonnes of biomass from forest fires.
Currently, the awareness levels in the Gambia for the public, electricity utility workers, and waste management workers on the health and environmental adverse effects associated with PCBs and uPOPs are very low and in many cases non-existent. As a result (and in addition to other challenges such as a lack of resources and technical knowledge), PCB and uPOPs/waste management best practices are lacking. This has increased the risk of exposure to PCBs and uPOPs to both humans and the environment. Therefore, practical measures that will quickly reverse this undesirable trend are urgently needed.
During the PPG phase, a fact-finding mission was undertaken to verify the available information on PCB-containing electrical equipment and open burning and waste management activities, as well as identify any missing information such as, inter alia, additional stakeholders to be included and supporting activities underway.
The project intends to support the Gambia with the necessary technical and financial assistance to reduce the risks posed by PCBs and uPOPs to the environment and human health. The project will include the identification and disposal of 75 t of PCB-contaminated equipment and waste, and the reduction of 35 g I-TEQ/year of uPOPs through improved waste management practices and reduction of open burning of waste.
The project will be implemented in partnership with the relevant institutional and industrial stakeholders, i.e. National Environment Agency (NEA), Ministry of Environment, Climate Change & Natural Resources (MECCNAR), National Water and Electricity Co. Ltd (NAWEC), Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC), and others. The project will ensure that an adequate level of sustained capacity for the sound management of PCBs and waste management/uPOPs reduction will be built for the management of any further hazardous waste identified (such as PCBs) after the project’s closure and for scaling-up improved waste management practices.
The Project Objective: This project aims at strengthening the capacity of national stakeholders to manage PCBs and achieve PCB elimination, address contaminated sites in an environmentally sound manner, and reduce U-POPs from opening burning, as identified as national priorities in the Gambia's National Implementation Plan for the Stockholm Convention.
The project consists of the following four components:
The UNDP Country Office, The Gambia and GOTG are seeking the services of a Gambian national for the position of Project Coordinator (PC) to be responsible for the day-to-day management and implementation of project activities during the four year period of the project. The Project Coordinator for the Project “Capacity building for PCBs and uPOPs in The Gambia” will be recruited in consultation with the UNDP Country office and the UNDP/GEF Regional Service Centre in Istanbul, Turkey and in line with UNDP rules.
II. Duties and Responsibilities
Summary of Key Functions:
The Project Manager will among others be responsible for:
q. The day-to-day management and decision-making for the project
q. Mobilizing personnel, goods and services and oversee all activities
III. Impact of Results
With technical and financial support from UNDP, the capacities of national stakeholders will be enhanced to reduce the risks posed by PCBs and U-POPs to the environment and human health. These will be achieved through strengthening the legal and administrative framework as well as enhanced technical preparedness for the sound management of PCBs and U-POPs, and specifically by implementing recommendations to minimize open burning of waste and promote enhanced monitoring, outreach and awareness raising on the harmful effects of chemicals in general.+
IV. Competencies and Selection Criteria
Description of Competency at Level Required
(For more comprehensive descriptions please see the competency inventory)
Detailed list of competencies can be accessed through
Promoting Organizational Learning and Knowledge Sharing
Level 6: Integrate & Empower: Leads integral work of teams utilizing expertise, vision, problem-solving capability, and collaborative energy in professional area of expertise
Job Knowledge/Technical Expertise in M&E
Level 2: Execute & Learn: Performs defined tasks efficiently and deepens knowledge of area of work
Level 3: Implement & Manage: Exercises skills and knowledge independently, demonstrating ability to manage self and team responsibilities, in area of work
Development and Operational Effectiveness
Level 5: Originate: Catalyzes new ideas, methods, and applications to pave a path for innovation and continuous improvement in professional area of expertise
V. Recruitment Qualifications
Post-graduate level - MSc (preferably an academic background) in chemicals/pest /waste management, electrical engineering and other related fields with at least 3 years work experience. OR BSc in the above fields of study with at least 5 years of field experience in relevant area
Experience in working in the area of chemical in the Gambia or in a developing country with similar conditions to the Gambia
English and at least one of the local languages (Mandinka or Wolof) widely spoken in the Gambia.
Contract Duration: 1 Year with Possibility of Extension