By: Lester B. Cooper (+231777368741)
The Deputy Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Randall M. Dobayou II on Wednesday outlined a catalog of achievements by his agency. The young environmentalist told Employ Liberia that the EPA achieved a lot in the year 2018, including policies formulation and implementation of series of environmental measures aimed at mitigating threat to Liberia’s environment and biodiversity.
“As you are aware, the EPA is mandated by the Environmental Management and Protection Laws of 2003 to sustainably manage the environment. When we took over as a team, there were lapses within the agency, as it relates to its efficiency and being visible in all the counties” he narrated.
He said according to the law, EPA must be visible in all of the 15 counties, but unfortunately, EPA was only visible in ten of the 15 subdivisions. He said the new EPA management team under the astute leadership of Nathaniel Blama moved quickly to have the environment agency in all counties.
“We now have a presence in all the counties” he divulged. Dobayou disclosed that another issue that affected the agency was the lack of mobility for inspectors in the various counties to adequately discharge their duties.
He lauded the United Nations Development Program for the provision of thirty-five (35) new motorbikes to the agency. These motorbikes, Randall intoned, are greatly aiding the work of EPA inspectors in the counties. “Presently, our inspectors are very effective. They are reaching out to people who exploit our resources and our environment. It has been an excellent deliverable”, he stated.
He revealed that the EPA which overall function is to enhance compliance and enforcement has been successful in deploying scores of inspectors and that these inspectors have been instrumental in arresting illicit mining in the counties.
“We have been able to curb many illegal miners and also halted the use of mercury that is used to blast into the earth surface and contaminate surface and groundwater” he said.
Dobayou further disclosed that under the National Adaptation Plan (NAP), Liberia is one of the few countries that have received US$ 3 million from the Global Climate Funds (GCF). According to the Deputy Director, Liberia does not have the infrastructure to mitigate and that all the country can do is to adapt. “Bigger countries like USA, Great Britain, and China with bigger industries are ones that are doing mitigation” he said.
In our quest to adapt, he said the country needs people who are trained in the climate and environmental disciplines. He explained that farmers need to be aware that cutting of trees is not conducive for our environment. Trees, said Randall, are to be preserved as these provide carbon.
Randall disclosed that the current EPA leadership is craving the end to contracting outside consultants. “We believe our people have the determination and with the infusion of knowledge and training, they can undertake most of the environmental works.”
Owing to the overarching goal, said Dobayou, the EPA sent 12 students to the University of Galilee in Israel to gain knowledge in various fields of environmental studies. “In addition to that, EPA has trained farmers in the rural areas like Lofa, Bong, and Nimba to get engaged into smart climate change” he disclosed.
The Deputy EPA boss divulged that more than 300 farmers have been trained to produce energy efficient cook stove. He said, the energy efficient cook stoves are produced to cut the usage of forest wood and reduces the time and money spent collecting wood. “It creates jobs and improves the livelihoods of impoverished people while mitigating climate change” said Mr. Dobayou.
He said the production of the energy efficient cook stoves will enhance the reduction of the use of firewood and protect the forest and will lead to social and economic development.
Dobayou exclaims that the EPA has the cardinal responsibility to sustainably manage the resources in a way that generation unborn must have something to inherit. “Our leadership has reawakened the Paris Agreement that was signed 2015, which Liberia is one of the signatories”, he explained.
He said the agency was committed to achievement of its global emission goal. “By doing that, we are optimistic that poverty will reduce, biodiversity will be preserved, and the concept of generational equity will be enhanced to the fullest”, he concluded.
He divulged that there are windows that had been open for Liberia to have funding from various multilateral partners. Some of the funding has been forthcoming, he stated. In New Kru town, revetments have been built for coastal defense purpose. He said those revetments were built due to the marine transgression. Sea erosion has long threatened the New Kru Borough posing serious menace to the public secondary school, D. Tweh High school. The Borough is one of Monrovia’s most populated suburbs.
Randall further disclosed that under the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) founded by the Green Climate Fund (GCF), the EPA was able to acquire US$ 2.2million for sustainable environmental undertakings such as the erection of revetments.
Dobayou revealed that under the supervision of NAP sponsored by the GCF, the EPA has concluded 90 percent of the funding and the creation of three Master’s Programs at the University of Liberia. The three programs are Master of Art, Master of Science programs in Environmental Science, and Master of Science in Biodiversity and Climate Change.
“We thought it wise to create these programs in order to get rid of consultants; they received more money from us. If Liberians are knowledgeable of these courses, they will make their money right here, that is economical”, he said.
He said the EPA, in partnership with the Ministry of Transport with support from UNDP and partners at GCF, was able to install eleven weather stations in 10 of the counties. Those weather stations automatically disseminate weather information everywhere across Liberia, and there is an app that can be used to know whether rain will fall today or tomorrow, and it can be installed on android phones as well.
“This app has been customized for Liberia”, he explained. He opined that the weather stations disseminate, analyze, and forecast weather information.
Mr. Dobayou further revealed that the EPA has established Environmental Clubs in high schools across the country. He noted that students need to know the importance of the environment to their well-being. “The clubs educate them on the bad effects of burning plastics in the community, as plastic is corrosive to human body and in many instances create lung cancer” said Mr. Dobayou.
The EPA deputy director concluded by noting that his agency was being firmer on enforcing the laws that protect wetlands. He informed this newspaper that the EPA was on the verge of breaking down the Kailondo Gas Station that was illegally erected into a wetland.
“According to the laws, the EPA will bring back all wetlands that has been illegally encroached upon back to their normal status.” Randall said stringent actions have already being taken by the EPA against abusers of the environment, including a fine for Bea Mountain for environmental degradation, and also giant supermarket owner, Abi Jaoudi for illegally encroaching on our wetland.