United Nations to assist Viet Nam in eliminating harmful POP pesticide stockpiles

05 Apr 2010

Ha Noi - The United Nations and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE) today announced a four-year project which will support national agencies and provincial authorities in safely disposing existing stockpiles of banned and harmful persistent organic pesticides in Viet Nam. The US$11 million project is funded through the state budget (US$6.5 million) and by the Global Environment Facility, Food and Agriculture Organization and United Nations Development Programme (US$4.5 million).

Speaking at the launching meeting in Ha Noi today Dr. Bui Cach Tuyen, head of the Viet Nam Environment Adminstration emphasised: “The use of pesticides to control pest in crop protection and fight diseases is necessary. However, improper handling and disposal of pesticides in the past has resulted in serious adverse effects on human heath and the environment and continues to pose a serious threat. To tackle this matter MONRE, in cooperation with other agencies and international organizations, has examined the situation and proposed a comprehensive National Plan of Action to dispose of these pesticides and prevent environmental pollution.”
 
Viet Nam has suffered perhaps more than any other country from the effects of persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Most are associated with war-time use of chemical defoliants. However, the adverse effect from improper use of pesticides in crop protection and disease control is becoming increasingly significant. The increased pressure to maintain high levels of agricultural production for consumption and export has resulted in an increased use of pesticides. Statistics show that in 2004 the total volume of pesticides used was 48,300 tons – 2.5 times higher than in the late 1990s and four times higher than in the 1980s. Many of these are persistent pollutants which are extremely harmful to human health and the environment.

The import and use of POP pesticides is now banned in Viet Nam. However, stockpiles that were accumulated before the bans came to effect still exist. A recent survey by MONRE shows that of the 1,153 areas polluted by POP pesticides, there are 289 pesticide stockpiles in 35 provinces. Of these stockpiles, eighty-nine are causing serious environmental pollution due to poor facilities and erosion.

“Because of their long-term impact on human health and the eco-system, cleaning up POP stockpiles and POP contaminated sites is one of the top environmental protection priorities in Viet Nam, ” said Mr Christophe Bahuet, Deputy Country Director of UNDP. “With this project, the Government is taking another significant step in addressing the issue. This will greatly help to protect the health of current and future generations of Vietnamese and encourage sustainable agricultural development in a POP-free environment.”

The project activities will focus on three areas: i) improving the capacity to handle pesticide stockpiles, ii) destroying known stockpiles and iii) improving the management capacity to prevent the importation and use of banned POP pesticides.

As part of the project, UNDP will help bring in best practices in the disposal of the harmful substances and ensure that Viet Nam has adequate capacity to effectively eliminate the importation and use of POPs.FAO is the specialized agency that will help develop technical and management guidelines for the treatment of contaminated sites, destruction procedures, and provide training for the national institutions and government agencies to handle POP stockpiles. The technical guidelines will be used to monitor implementation and ensure that risk to workers and the environment is reduced. It will develop a POP pesticide information system using its Pesticide Stock Management System tool (PSMS). Based on the PSMS data and strategy, FAO will support teams in the implementation phase of the safeguarding work. FAO will bring experience and expertise from its global programme to clean up obsolete pesticides, prevent future toxic threats and protect human health and the environment.
 
It is estimated that at least 150 tons of known POP pesticide stockpiles will be safely destroyed. The project will also develop the national capacity to handle POP stockpiles discovered in future and to control the illegal importation and use of POP pesticides.

Contact Information

Mr. Nguyen Hoa Binh, Deputy National Project Director The Vietnam Environment Administration Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment Email: pop-pesticides@vnn.vn Tel: +84 4 37834464 Fax: +84 4 37834465

Mr. Le Van Hung UNDP Programme Officer
Email: le.van.hung@undp.org

Ms. Nguyen Viet Lan One UN Communications team
Email: nguyen.viet.lan@undp.org Tel: +84 438224383, ext: 121

Ms. Nguyen Thi Huong FAO Programme Officer
Email: Huong.nguyenthi@fao.org