Experts from four Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) countries upgraded their skills in chemical incident response and sampling management during an online specialist course held from 25 to 27 May. The event was conducted by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in partnership with the Population Protection Institute of the Fire Rescue Service of the Czech Republic.
The course leader from the Population Protection Institute, Lt Col Ladislava Navrátilová, noted: “This training aims to strengthen chemical safety and emergency preparedness in Africa and is the first online OPCW course that focuses on first response activities in the Hot-Zone of a chemical incident. Successful participants will then progress to further skills training where they will put the acquired knowledge into practice working in teams under the direction of an incident commander and team leader”.
Programme Officer from the OPCW’s Assistance and Protection Branch, Mr Babatunde Olowookere, underlined: “This training contributes to the full and effective implementation of Article X of the Chemical Weapons Convention – Assistance and Protection Against Chemical Weapons. We are fortunate to benefit from an excellent group of instructors from the Czech Republic who guide the participants through topics related to response operations in incidents involving chemical warfare agents or toxic industrial chemicals.”
Participants learned about the detection, identification, sampling, and decontamination techniques required for reconnaissance and sampling operations in highly contaminated environments. The course also covered safety measures and the procedures necessary to manage a response from the scene of an incident.
The course was attended by 29 experts from four OPCW Member States from the IGAD region: Ethiopia, Kenya, the Sudan, and Uganda.
As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW, with its 193 Member States, oversees the global endeavour to permanently eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997, it has been the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapon of mass destruction.
Over 98% of all declared chemical weapon stockpiles have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.