Mission Report

UN Environment/OCHA Joint Unit Mission Report – 2006 Cote d’Ivoire Toxic Waste dump

This mission report describes the findings of a United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team and two environmental experts deployed by the UN Environment/OCHA Joint Unit (JEU) to identify hazardous chemical dumping sites in Abidjan and their effects on human health & the environment.

In August 2006, hazardous substances were dumped at a number of sites in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. In September, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator requested a United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team to assist with this environmental emergency. In the field, the team (including two environmental experts from Sweden and the Netherlands deployed through the JEU) cooperated with an expert deployed through the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC) of the European Commission. The UNDAC team identified up to 18 dumping sites and determined that the main chemicals found in the original waste were harmful to humans and the environment.

As a follow-up on the UNDAC mission, the JEU participated in an OCHA-United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-Habitat mission in November 2006 to identify options for national authorities to choose from in developing an effective response to all types of disasters. It was agreed that future contingency planning for disaster preparedness would include environment as a key component.

“An environmental emergency that causes a major impact on public health can have a dangerously destabilizing effect in a country” said Joanna Tempowski, Scientist from the Department of Public Health and Environment at the World Health Organization. “Especially where a government is already operating in a climate of social unrest and political instability, as was the case in Côte d’Ivoire at the time. A prompt, well-coordinated and politically neutral response is therefore essential and good communication among the different agencies is vital”.

Consult the report here.

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