We have organized start up meeting in March 2010 in order to get participants in our informal network more familiar with project purpose and to establish basis for closer cooperation on the issues related to both obsolete as well as currently used pesticides in Armenia. People attending the startup meeting included 33 representatives from environmental NGOs, Agricultural Support Region Centers, governmental bodies and the international organizations, such as OSCE, UNDP and UNIDO.
AWHHE as a partner NGO discussed also strategy plan for NGOs working on chemical safety and based on these discussions set up. A draft document consists of 10 points about a close cooperation of NGOs, sharing of the available information, mutual support of NGOs, lobbying and advocacy campaigns, continuous monitoring of the implementation of conventions, promotion of safe and environmentally sound alternatives of chemicals, raising awareness of public about chemical safety, promotion of organic farming and food production in Armenia, etc.
AWHHE has organized seminars, workshops and trainings with aim to increase NGOs, local communities, women groups and farmers capacity to participate in decision making processes as well as to show them how to produce agricultural products without using pesticides in order to prevent their pollution and to get competitive advantage on the market (155 participants in total at 24 trainings/seminars/workshops, and 3 farmer field schools).
We did sampling of soil and waste from obsolete pesticides stockpiles in Nubarashen, Echmiadzin, Masis, and Jrarat plus hazardous wastes dumpsite in Alaverdi in July 2010. 102 samples of soil, wastes, water, air, fish, eggs, meat, and milk from 5 hot spots were taken and analyzed for 27 obsolete organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) residues, 221 other pesticides residues, PCDD/Fs, DL PCBs, and finally also heavy metals. Majority of chemical analyses were done in Czech laboratories for pesticides residues and heavy metals, some of them were organized by AWHHE in Yerevan. Some samples were sent to the laboratory in the Netherlands for analysis of dioxins (PCDD/Fs) and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (DL PCBs). We were able to organize also collaboration of Institute of Chemical Technology in Prague.
The SAICM (Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management) informational center was established in the office of AWHHE and runs until now. We have gathered information from different international as well as Armenian information resources and spread them to Armenian NGOs, experts and other stakeholders.
We have established also webpage with profiles of pesticides in order to make information about their risk more accessible to broader public. This information is available on the project website in Armenian language at following link: http://www.awhhe.am/arm/eu_project2010.html.
Arnika has organized study tour for two AWHHE members in the Czech Republic. They could see Arnika – Toxics and Waste Programme information center in Prague, by pesticides contaminated sites in Klatovy, and Strakonice. Part of the program was also meeting with Czech experts on clean up of sites contaminated by pesticides.