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Regional experts meet to discuss sustainable management of industrial effluent in East Africa

Regional experts meet to discuss sustainable management of industrial effluent in East Africa

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On 19-20 May the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) of Ethiopia in conjunction with Bio-Innovate Program convened a two-day regional meeting in Addis Ababa that brought together environmental management regulators,high-level policy makers and industry owners and players to discuss and recommend enabling policies and regulations needed for efficient and sustainable industrial effluent management in the region. Participants were drawn from Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania.

At hand to officiate the opening of the forum was Ato Abdisa Yilma the advisor to H.E. Demitu Hambissa the Minister of Science and Technology. “The bioscience revolution, with its spectrum of application to improve agricultural productivity, environmental protection and human health provides new opportunities for economic and social development worldwide.” Mr. Abdisa said in his opening remarks.

“However, to grasp the benefits, Ethiopia as well as other countries in the region needs to adopt appropriate regulatory and policy incentives. The ministry of Science and Technology is committed to promoting clean technology for sustainable development.”


Representative of Her Excellency W/ro Demitu Hambissa, Minister, FDRE Ministry of
Science and Technology, Abdisa Yilma being interviewed 
(Photo credit: Albert Mwangi/Bio-Innovate)

The ministry recognized that environmental problems require environmental policies and strategies that favor generation and adoption of green technologies in agriculture, energy and water resources use and management. He expressed the commitment of the Ethiopian Ministry of Science and Technology to work with the Bio-Innovate Program to take this agenda forward to ensure the environment is kept clean for many generations to come.

The meeting whose agenda was two-fold sought to identify opportunities and challenges of adopting new technologies and fostering innovation for industrial effluents management in East Africa; and develop a set of recommendations for enabling policy and regulations, including incentives schemes for uptake of innovations in industrial effluents management in region.

Seyoum Leta of Bio-Innovate used the industrial wastewater treatment and value addition consortium funded by the Program to contextualize the problem facing many industries in the region in fulfilling set rules and regulations in managing their wastewater.

“Industries in the Eastern Africa region are growing because of the opportunities and the conducive environment for investment. However, this growth, and more specifically the nature of the waste these enterprises produce aren’t matched with appropriate waste management technologies.” He indicated.

He revealed that there are more than 5,000 agro-processing industries in East Africa and only 10% of them treat industrial their wastewater to some degree, which often does not meet national environmental quality standards.

According to Dr Leta, lack of awareness has seen many of these enterprises install an oxidation or stabilization pond that can only treat effluent partially and does not reduce the level of toxins discharged to the environment.

“If we really want a treatment that complies with existing national standards, it has to meet all the discharge limits contained in a given environmental standards.”

“We are approaching different funding agencies within and outside the region to support the roll out of the waste treatment and value addition innovations that Bio-Innovate has developed in partnership with the private sector to industrial players across the region.

Participants of the Bio innovate meeting
Participants of the Bio-innovate Regional Industrial Effluent Management
Workshop.(Photo credit: Bio-Innovate)

In his keynote presentation, professor Karoli Njau from the Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology, the lead for the industrial wastewater treatment and value addition consortium said that, “the condition of industrial effluents management in sub-Saharan Africa is terrible. You do not have to be a scientist to see this. If you go to any city in sub-Saharan Africa you will see poorly disposed solid waste and wastewater that is directly released into the municipal sewage or river systems without any form of pretreatment thus polluting our water resources. “

He pointed out various challenges that hamper industries from adopting effective effluent management Including the sizes and the economics of the industries, failure to enforce laws and also because such solutions are unknown to the end-users or perceived to be costly.

“We need to develop home grown solutions and technologies, that suite our unique environment and challenges. The problem with imported technologies is that they may not be sustainable and the after sales services may not be readily available and are often costly. The best option is to develop homegrown solutions hence building the knowledge base within and creating jobs. In addition, due to the initially high capital outlays need to install these technologies, the private sector should be incentivized to adopt these environmentally sustainable industrial waste management technologies.”

The forum invited several experts from the East Africa region to present the status of effluent management and existing policy framework in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia. These experts presented their finding which formed the basis for the two-day discussions.

The Program through the policy consortium aims at using the findings from the discussion to publish policy papers and briefs distilling the issues and making recommendations to inform policy change or improvement to support industrial waste management in the region.

You can find the presentations to the meeting here:

Photos from the meeting can be view here:

Listen to what four participants from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania had to say about the forum:

Interview of Enid Turyahikayo, Assistant Audit and Compliance Officer, NEMA, Uganda

Interview of Flora Tibazarwa Director at Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), Tanzania

Interview of Suresh Patel, Chemical Engineer, Kenya Association of Manufacturers, Kenya

Interview of Margaret Karembu Director, ISAAA Africenter, Kenya