Virtually all consumer products used in daily life contain chemicals. Chemicals are therefore, a necessary evil; however, chemicals if not handled appropriately can present negative impacts, sometime irreversible to biodiversity.

Many people and communities around the world are exposed to numerous harmful chemicals, chemicals products and chemicals wastes. In Uganda, very many toxic chemicals are widely used and handled unsafely in many ways, for example, chemicals are poorly; transported, handled, labeled, stored and poorly discarded.   Unfortunately, most consumers, especially from the rural areas are either illiterate or semiliterate and are ignorant of the possible harm chemical products may cause to them and their environment.

It should also be noted that Uganda has a National Chemicals Profile and a national Chemicals Policy and Legal Framework to regulate the use and Management of chemicals in the country, it’s a signatory to many international instruments; including minamata convention, Basal, Rotterdam, among others however, the implementation and promotion of these national and international legal frameworks is not adequate.

Chemical challenges of concern

  • Chemicals continue to be misused in the country and most of the impacts from poor usage and handling heavily affects women more than their male counterparts, for example there are dangerous chemicals in cosmetics being used by women in saloons   and other cosmetics which contain harmful chemicals to turn their skin color.
  • Some chemicals like mercury that was banned globally through the minamata convention, is still widely being used in the artisanal small scale gold mining sector and unfortunately, its women that are doing activities that interact more with mercury in the gold mining sector, that’s the panning stage where mercury is added to the ore for amalgamation.
    Largely, mercury is a serious threat to biodiversity as it poisons fish, contaminants water sources, food eventually circulates in the food chain.
  • Lack of capacity to treat waste and chemical waste leading to chemical stockpiles. Natural filters (wetlands) are greatly threatened by improper disposal of chemicals.