FAO supports women’s groups in Missirah, northern Senegal, to transform empty pesticide packaging into ecological paving stones
Empty pesticide containers in the cotton production area in northern Senegal litter the edges of fields and pose a threat to human health and the environment. To contribute to better management of these packages in West Africa and Sahel, FAO has been implementing since 2016 an initiative on the management of obsolete pesticides to assist in their effective and efficient management. Senegal, a beneficiary of this sub-regional project, is conducting field activities for the benefit of several producers in the northern region. From 23 to 27 May 2022, a training session was held at the Sodefitex sector in Missirah on the transformation of empty packaging containing pesticides used by cotton growers during crop pest control campaigns into ecological paving stones.
11 participants, including 9 women from producer groups in the villages of Diennoudiala, Madina Diang and Soukouto, benefited from this practical training on sorting, rinsing, cutting into pieces, and mixing with fine sand and plastic bags, cooking, molding on tables and cooling. This training is also an opportunity to create a source of income and reduce unemployment, empowering women. It also contributes to avoiding the domestic reuse of empty packaging by the population for human health and environmental protection and to rid the environment of pollutants
The transformation operation consists of mixing 7 kg of empty packaging and 9 kg of sand to obtain 16 paving stones that will cover 0.4 square metres. This means that 20 paving stones are needed for one square metre and the material requirement is 17.5 kg of empty packaging and 22.5 kg of sand.
“The recycling of plastic waste (empty pesticide packaging) presents an opportunity from an economic, social and, above all, environmental point of view. This innovative product actively contributes to the protection of the environment and health because it rids the ecosystem of a cumbersome and dangerous pollutant,” emphasized Mr Mbargou LO, the project’s national expert for Senegal.
The plastic paving stones are suitable for different types of terrain (pavements, courtyards, alleys, etc.). Their selling prices are affordable (600 frs per unit), and important advantages such as solidity and an excellent quality level are obtained thanks to the reliability of the raw material, with a low toxicity rate because the empty packages were properly rinsed before being transformed.
During the operations, it was noted that the empty pesticide packaging contained more plastic and resulted in stronger paving stones compared to those made from another plastic packaging.
To ensure the sustainability of this activity, the actors wished that these transformation techniques be multiplied by other actors in the sector in the entire cotton zone and thus achieve the main objective of transforming a source of environmental and health pollution into an opportunity for income generation and job creation for women.
The local authorities and those of the Development Corporation support these activities and help the women’s groups to set up units for the manufacture of ecological paving stones for the infrastructures housing the services of the Administration and the Town Hall.