The government of Rwanda on Thursday hosted the 10th regional roundtable meeting that discusses CBRN (Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear) material waste management.
This annual meeting is taking place at the Kigali Convention Center and will last for three days.
The aim of the CBRN initiative is to prevent the possible acquisition of these materials for malicious purposes.
It addresses the mitigation of and preparedness against risks related to CBRN material and agents.
The origin of these risks can be criminal, accidental or natural. The initiative seeks to boost cooperation at regional and international levels, and develop a common and coherent CBRN risk mitigation policy at the regional level.
Regional coordinator for Eastern and Central Africa Alma Pintol said, “In particular, the meeting will focus on chemical waste management. We are bringing experts coming from different government institutions dealing with these issues. We are going to understand where the challenges of partner countries lie and what kinds of preventive measures have been in place and where they have gaps that need to be filled in.”
Once this is defined, she said, a project will be created sponsored by the European Commission to be implemented in each partner country to improve the situation in the chemical waste management.
Alma noted that different institutions are producing chemical waste that needs to be managed. And “we need to understand if the legislation is in place to handle these risks, if the staff has strength to handle those chemicals properly and what kinds of trainings and activities need to be undertaken to minimize these risks”.
Joseph Maina, head of secretariat CBRN Eastern and Central Africa region which is based in Nairobi, Kenya also said that “each country in the world is facing these risks. Each country is producing chemical waste that has to be dealt with”.
He added that what they are bringing within this initiative is the experience from not only the European Commission, European Union countries, or the partner countries in the region, but the experience of 60 partner countries across the globe that are part of this initiative.
According to Maina, the materials are those used by technology in the CBRN field for peaceful purposes such as in health, agriculture, research and industries. However, he warns that if not well managed can go into the hands of malicious actors and be destructive.
“These materials are actually used in our socio-economic sectors as a technology where it is the best technology. Until we get an alternative technology, we are going to still use these materials. However, if these materials go in the hands of malicious actors or terrorists they may become quite dangerous and used for malevolent purposes,” he said.
Coordinator for CBRN Rwanda, Maj. Pascal Munyangabe said that Rwanda as well as other countries in the region is looking at how to set up measures whether in legislation or proper usage of the materials.
“We will have many sensitization programs for the citizens and show them the negative aspects of the materials. However, we cannot assume that they are just bad. CBRN have positive aspects as well. You cannot have industries, health without using these materials. What is needed is using them properly for what they are designed for,” Munyangabe said.