An intermediate collection centre (ICC) for obsolete pesticides is ready for use at Vakhsh Burial Site in Khatlon Oblast, Southern Tajikistan. The storage centre is built in the frame of the project Demonstrating and scaling up sustainable alternatives to DDT for the control of vector borne diseases in Southern Caucasus and Central Asia (DDT Project). Vakhsh Burial site is one of the most problematic obsolete pesticides hot-spots in Central Asia that reportedly contains 4000 tonnes of obsolete pesticides including large volumes of DDT.
For many years the site was abandoned and unguarded. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Tajik authorities were not able to maintain Vakhsh well and illegal waste extraction became a daily practice. Even today DDT is openly available at local markets. The chemicals are used as an affordable alternative to the expensive modern plant protection products, but also because ‘nothing works better.’ All this time cattle had free access to the burial site and free access to the heavily polluted standing water in excavation pits.
OSCE fence to stop cattle from drinking polluted water from the site
For many years national and international stakeholders gave little priority to solving the problems around the hot-spot Vakhsh. Fortunately this attitude has changed recently: To stop the illegal excavation and lower the risks for public health of cattle drinking polluted water from the site, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) fenced the site off earlier this month.
Committee for Environmental Protection guards the burial site
The Tajik Committee for Environmental Protection in turn, built a guard house overseeing the site and appointed a guarding team. The United Nations Development Organization (UNDP) constructed a water supply installation that will help to re-vegetate the area and stop erosion. Last but not least a Governmental Committee for Emergencies team, trained by Veolia International Field Services, will transport up to a hundred tonnes of repackaged DDT and associated waste to Vakhsh. Veolia was contracted for these activities in the frame of the DDT Project.
Milieukontakt and Green Cross Switzerland are the implementing the DDT Project in the region for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF).