Do you know that the ozone layer is a thin layer high in the atmosphere preventing the harmful rays of the sun from reaching the earth?
Because this layer has been damaged over the past 50 years, the harmfull rays of the sun can now reach us and can cause health problems including skin cancer, eye cataracts and affect our immune system.
Hence it is of utmost importance to protect the ozone layer.
Many ordinary commodities that industries produce and households consume (fx. refrigerators) contain ozone depleting substances like:
To address and combat the problem arising from the substances, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplet the Ozone Layer was established. Under the Montreal protocol, countries which are party must control the production and consuption of Ozone-Depleting Substances(ODS). All parties are also expected to phase out all substances depleting the ozone layer.
Chemicals Management is one of the key issues in the area of environmental management. Chemicals management refers to the use of chemicals in a way that does not result in adverse impacts on human health and the environment. Although this issue is fairly new and still emerging, the Swaziland Environment Authority is already taking steps towards addressing it.
Currently EEA is implementing enabling activities towards the achievement of sound management of chemicals. One of these is the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).
EEA & UN Institute for Research & Training
Currently the Swaziland Environment Authority with the technical assistance of the United Nations Institute for Research and Training is running a project that is aimed at creating enabling environment for the implementation of sound management of chemicals in the country.
Part of the focus of this project was to compile a national chemicals profile which would be an indication of the current status of chemicals management in the country. This document was compiled through a multi-stakeholder consultation process and is available from the website under Projects.
Following the compilation of the National Chemicals Profile was followed by the drafting of the National Implementation Plan for Sound Management of Chemicals. This document has been recently validated by stakeholders and it outlines Swaziland’s roadmap towards achieving sound management of chemicals.
Two Partnership projects are also being run alongside, these are the Strategy for Eliminating Lead in Paint and the Strategy to Implement the Globally Harmonized System for Classification and Labeling of Chemicals. These two documents are still in the draft stage.
In Eswatini the EIA process is mandatory and must be done before any project commences. This is also done under the auspices of the Eswatini Environment Authority (EEA). The primary objective of an EIA is to identify the impact of proposed activities and to formulate mitigation plans, making it relatively simple to incorporate environmental concerns into the designs of a project.
Every developer or manufacturer implementing a project is expected to commission an EIA before starting, and if identified impacts cannot be mitigated, the project may not proceed.
The EIA process is effectively a decision-making tool aimed at avoiding environmental problems and is a legal requirement under the Environment Management Act 2002.
The EIA process caters for people or organisations who will directly affected by a proposed project, as well as those who are interested, and the aim is to ensure that no one is adversely affected by it.
An EIA entails three key steps. The project proponent first submits a brief to the Eswatini Environment Authority for categorisation to determine the level of the project. Categorisation is determined by the type of project and the its location. The second step involves the assessment exercise which includes classifying the project under the 3 categories provided for by the “Environmental Audit, Assessment and Review Regulations 2000.”
The Eswatini National Environment Fund operates in association with local communities in different areas of Eswatini. The objective of the fund is to support the protection and conservation of the environment and to support the communities’ participation in those relating activities.
The fund approves and supports projects on communal level that needs financial funding in the work towards sustaining the local environment. Currently 15 community projects are targeted for 2014.
Impact on Communities
The Environment Fund has had a significant impact on communities where the projects have been implemented. The projects have been promoting unity within the communities, as well as empowering women in particular to take a leadership role on environmental protection. People have gathered for a united case while sacrificing their time for the local environmental issues. Awareness has been spread among communities as a positive result.
The challenges with maintaining the projects are the politics and barriers that might include, possible conflicts between different parties, as well as price inflation. If environmental project is going to be successful one important key is education. Further the ownership should belong to the communities.
Palfridge Ltd is a manufacturer of domestic and commercial refrigerators. The factory is situated in Eswatini and the company is 98% locally owned and employs 638 workers and staff.
Palfridge Limited has phased out the use of HCFC 141b in its PU insulation foam production for domestic and commercial refrigerators. The company completed the conversion project of refrigerants HCFC22 and HFC 134a to isobutene and propane refrigerants.
Three Vocational training institutions, Gwamile VOCTIM, MITC, and SCOT were identified to serve as referral centers for training of technicians and also management of some set of equipments for the technicians in the country. They are also used to collect data on ODS consumption. UNEP and UNDP have been strengthening these institutions through the provision of equipment building their capacity.
Numerous sets of equipment have been delivered in the past such as refrigerant identifiers, cylinders, and compressors etc. below are some of the donated equipment to institutions. There is need to upgrade the curricula of programmes in these institutes to incorporate the good refrigeration practices including hydrocarbon technology.
The Swaziland National Refrigeration Association was formed at a training workshop for refrigeration technicians held from the 22nd to 26th August 2011 at MITC, Manzini. The training had been held to build capacity of refrigeration technicians to uphold good refrigeration practices in the country. During the training, the concept of forming a refrigeration constitution was introduced. The need to form the association was highlighted and reasons cited were that the association would be of major assistance to technicians when carrying out their day to day work. Other reasons put forward were that it would help;
• Organize the profession of refrigeration;
• Assist the National Ozone Unit in data collection in the refrigeration sector;
• Raise awareness of their members on the harmful effects of refrigeration ODS on human health and the environment;
• Strengthen the capacity of refrigeration sector to Reduce Emission and consumption of ODS;
• Participate in the implementation of policies, strategies, programs and projects for the implementation of the Montreal Protocol.
Training of Trainers and Service Technicians
The Eswatini Environment Authority has trained a lot of service technicians on good refrigeration practices in the country and continues to so in each and every year to build capacity. These technicians are from the formal and informal servicing sector throughout the country. With the high number of refrigeration technicians, continuous training to sustain the ODS phase out and the expanding of the expanding refrigeration industry should be done.