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SADC conducts course on emergency response to chemical incidents

2022-05-11  Staff Reporter

SADC conducts course on emergency response to chemical incidents
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Rauna Kalola


The Ministry of Industrialisation and Trade is hosting a five-day training course from 9-13 May on Emergency Response to Chemical Incidents for States Parties of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The training course underway in Swakopmund is aimed at developing protective capabilities in handling incidents involving chemical warfare agents or toxic industrial chemicals.

Although Namibia is not known to have developed, produced, stockpiled or used chemical weapons, there may be a risk of non-compliance with producing chemicals. SADC can also not rule out the possibility of non-state members using toxic chemicals for hostile purposes.  

Babatunde Olowookere, speaking on behalf of the director general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Fernando Arias, said the dangers posed by state chemical stores are now declining, and other threats are emerging that require vigilance.

“Prevention is of course the first line of defence, but preparations to deal with the consequences of an incident are essential to ensuring that states parties’ response measures will be effective, and our common goal is to ensure that the practice of chemistry is always and exclusively committed to the pursuit of peace, security and prosperity for all”, he stated. The OPCW has overseen the destruction of about 97.26% (or 70 493 60 metric tonnes) of chemical warfare agents, and expects to destroy all declared stockpiles by 2023.

Speaking at the same occasion was Salom Haidula on behalf of industrialisation minister Lucia Iipumbu, who expressed concern on myths related to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) that it merely deals with chemical warfare. 

“Participants should be at ease as the workshop is not aimed at equipping them with techniques on how to engage in chemical warfare, but rather enhances knowledge on responding to chemical incidents”, Iipumbu said.

The CWC is formulated to prohibit the development, production, storing and usage of chemical weapons, and to ensure their destruction as their chemical actions on life processes can cause death, temporary incapacitation or permanent harm to humans or animals. 

The technical secretariat of the OPCW as well as other regional experts will be providing expertise that will capacitate SADC towards the implementation of the CWC. The training course, which is both theoretical and practical, will cover concepts on the Convention for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Article X, chemical agents, personal protection, contamination and DIM (Detection, identification and monitoring).

•Rauna Kalola is an information officer at MICT.

2022-05-11  Staff Reporter

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