Learning to Improve Chemicals Management in Ghana
Name: Kafui Korshiwor Boni
Title: Principal Programme Officer, Chemicals Control and Management Centre, Environmental Protection Agency
e-Learning course: GHS e-Learning Course
Located close to the equator and on the Greenwich Meridian, Ghana is one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies and has made major progress in the attainment and consolidation of growth and poverty reduction through the years.
Likewise, the proposal of changes in the current legal framework suggests that the same efforts are put into preserving their natural environment, more specifically towards adopting the classification and labelling of chemicals according to the “Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS)”. Since January 2020 Ghana’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is drafting a bill that would require companies to register all industrial and consumer chemicals in the country, which could greatly speed the process of fully adopting the GHS.
At the same time, EPA’s employees are learning to improve their skills in chemicals management to become better assets themselves. Kafui Korshiwor Boni is one of them. A Mineral Engineer with a master’s in Environmental Resources Management, Kafui is Principal Programme Officer at EPA’s Chemicals Control and Management Centre. She joined the centre early in her career. “After graduating we are supposed to do national service. I was then assigned to EPA’s Chemicals Control and Management Centre and assisted with the issuance of chemical import permits, chemical clearance permits, licensing of chemical activities and visiting industries for inspections”, she explains adding that she loves going to the industrial plants, connecting with people, and providing assistance to them. One day her boss approached her to discuss the possibility of participating in UNITAR’s in-depth and interactive GHS e-Learning Course. “He did it the previous year, so when there was a new opening, he asked me if I could do it”, Kafui recalls.
Initially, Kafui was hesitant to accept the offer. As a mother of three young kids, she knew that all the spare time she had was already compromised, but with the encouragement of her boss, she soon felt confident to get on board and take the opportunity. “It was a huge task, but I decided to challenge myself and go through it, and I’m glad I did”, she acknowledges adding that she enjoyed the overall experience.
Kafui saw she could immediately apply part of what she learnt to her day-to-day work.
We do an evaluation of chemicals and there are documents that the industries submit to be able to import chemicals. What I learned during the course made me have a better understanding of the information the industry submit.
There is another part of the knowledge she gained that Kafui is not able to apply yet, but she is looking forward to doing so very soon. “Ghana has not fully adopted the GHS, but we are now taking steps towards the adoption. So far, we have been using WHO classification of chemicals, but I am sure when Ghana finally fully adopts the GHS, I will be able to say that I used all the knowledge I got from the course”, she foresees. We are excited to see Kafui’s future contributions to improve chemicals management in her country.
The GHS is an internationally agreed system that provides countries with the regulatory building blocks to develop or modify existing national programmes. It sets criteria for the classification of chemical hazards and offers protective measures through labels and safety data sheets. The GHS is an important tool for countries to develop or modify national programmes and to facilitate trade.
UNITAR plays an active role in capacity building for countries and regions to implement the GHS, as well as in providing information and outreach on GHS at regional and international levels.