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Africans Deal with Plastics and their Impact

More than 50 African environment ministers are gathering in Senegal this week for the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment. Plastics and the harmful burning of waste are high on the agenda. The conference is taking place in the wake of major flooding and drought throughout the continent, which have aggravated food insecurity, damaged vital infrastructure and cost fragile economies billions of dollars. On top of these disasters is the issue of plastic pollution and the burning of waste, which releases methane and other harmful gases into the environment. The ministers in attendance will also discuss the development of an international agreement on plastic pollution — a major issue in African countries where waste management systems and anti-littering education are often lacking. John Kerry, the U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, is expected to attend the conference Wednesday and Thursday to discuss methane emissions, climate adaptation and waste management. Badgie Dawda, the executive director of Gambia’s National Environment Agency says he hopes the event will allow attendees to create meaningful partnerships that span the globe. About 600,000 million Africans die from air pollution-related illnesses each year, according to the U.N. Environment Program.