Mines & Energy Minister Rallies Liberian to Take Pragmatic Steps in Tackling Air Pollution

Liberia’s Environmental Protection Agency celebrates 2019 World Environment Day with colorful activities that commence with a grand march and culminated with an indoor program attended by cross-section of stakeholders including policymakers and students

Paynesville – As Liberians join the rest of the world in celebrating World Environment Day, Mines and Energy Minister, Gesler E. Murray has cautioned Liberians to stop ‘inflicting damage on ourselves’ by avoiding age-old practices that cause harm to the environment.

Report by Gerald C. Koinyeneh, [email protected]

Speaking through a proxy when he served as the keynote speaker at events marking ‘World Environment Day’ on Wednesday, June 5, Minister Murray outlined ‘environmentally friendly steps’ that when taken would reduce environmental pollution.

On an individual level, he said Liberians should stop using the old-fashioned charcoal cook stoves and move towards better fuel sources and the modern style efficient stoves. 

“Charcoal gives out lots of particulate matter which get into our lungs and causes damage, but more efficient pellets and stoves reduce this threat,” he stated.

Some personal initiatives, he outlined also include the use of bottled gas which burns faster and cleaner, avoidance of fossil fuel by riding a bicycle or walking and properly servicing the vehicles.

At community level, he recommends the planting of more trees within the surroundings, adding that trees and plants act as barriers and filters between humans and the sources of pollution.

Instead of burning thrash, he advised residents in Monrovia and surroundings should make use of the community-based enterprises (CBEs) to take the trash away as burning it will release “all kinds of harmful substances into the very air we breathe. We can demand that polluting industrial buildings are kept away from where we live for the same reason.”

At the national level, Minister Murray suggested that cars over the age of ten years are heavily regulated from entering the country and periodic air quality inspections of cars and trucks, home generators and equipment be mandated as means of decreasing air pollution.

In addition, he wants new projects, whether infrastructure, mining, agriculture or industrial to be evaluated for their air pollution potential through the environmental and social impact assessment process.

Also speaking, the Deputy Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Randall M. Dobayou II reiterated the EPA’s call on all residents within Monrovia and its environs to sustainably dispose their waste to avoid major public health crisis.

Mr. Dobayou indicated that burial of municipal solid waste can cause leachate pollution of surface and ground water; resulting into disastrous health and environmental consequences especially if the waste contains toxic substances or nearby water sources are used for water supply. 

In addition, he emphasized that waste burial also have the ability to affect soil quality and reduce agriculture yield.

Speaking against the burning of waste, he cautioned: “The agency is also asking citizens to stop the burning of waste as it poses an even greater health and environmental risk to everyone. Open burning of waste can result into the direct release of smoke and toxic fumes into the atmosphere affecting the environment.”

EPA Deputy Executive Director Randall M. Dobayou II speaking at event marking World Environment Day on June 5 in Paynesville

The Deputy EPA boss revealed that over the years, the agency’s departments of Inter-Sectoral Coordination, Compliance and Enforcement and the National Adaption Project have ‘robustly’ encouraged the participation of the civil society, Non-Governmental Organizations, Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and various municipalities and the private sector in properly managing our ‘precious’ environment.

Some of the EPA’s interventions towards ensuring a clean environment, he added, include the training of stakeholders from across the country in 2018 on the Basel Convention which speaks of the country trans-boundary movement of hazardous waste and strengthened them to combat toxic trade.

In addition, he outlined that the EPA has finalized the formulation of four key regulations aimed at strengthening the agency’s regulatory mandate while ensuring sustainable environmental protection and management and these include: the burial regulation, fumigation guideline, water quality regulation and the procedure for cyanide.

He furthered that through its Ozone unit, the EPA recently donated assorted equipment worth US$12,000 to enhance the Monrovia Vocational Training Center’s training capacity in the area of refrigeration and air conditioning technicians to avoid the misuse of earth ozone depleting substances.

With support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), he mentioned that the EPA has trained stakeholders in handling and recycling plastic for economic benefit.

Students attending an indoor program marking World Environment Day on June 5 2019

Meanwhile, the celebration organized by the EPA commenced with a grand march from Samuel Kanyon Doe (SKD) Boulevard in Congo Town and climaxed with an indoor program at the SKD Sports Complex in Paynesville. 

It was attended by cross section of citizens including policy makers, experts and students. A panel discussion focusing on the effects of air pollution and its prevention was held, featuring Liberia’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Francis Kateh and Conservation International’s Country Director, Jessica Donovan Allen among others.

About World Environment Day (WED)

World Environment Day (WED) is celebrated on the 5th of June every year, and is the United Nation’s principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of the environment

First held in 1974, it has been a flagship campaign for raising awareness on emerging environmental issues from marine pollution, human overpopulation, and global warming, to sustainable consumption and wildlife crime. 

WED has grown to become a global platform for public outreach, with participation from over 143 countries annually. 

Each year, WED has a new theme that major corporations, NGOs, communities, governments and celebrities worldwide adopt to advocate environmental causes.

This year’s global theme is ‘Air Pollution’ and the local slogan is ‘Clean Air, Good Health.’