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Cleanup priorities for stockpiles of obsolete pesticides

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This World Bank research integrates information on populations, ecosystems, and biodiversity and the risks of exposure to obsolete stockpiles of pesticides.

Contact: Susmita Dasgupta,

 Tunisia | Mali |  Research outputs 

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates 440,800 to 551,000 metric tons of obsolete pesticides have accumulated in developing countries or economies in transition.

Public health and environmental authorities are concerned over the risks these chemicals (approximately 1,915 metric tons of obsolete pesticide formulations at hundreds of sites) pose to nearby residents and mounting evidence of environmental damage. They are eager to reduce, remove, and decontaminate these sites, but there are many sites, cleanup can be costly, and public resources are scarce. To help decision makers set priorities, a new approach develops a composite measure of potential exposure risk for each site as a function of the volume of pesticides, their relative hazard, and the condition of the storage containers. These measures are converted to per-capita and total exposure risk for nearby populations using parameters that govern the effect of distance on exposure. The results of applying the method in Tunisia reveal a high degree of clustering among the top 10 sites, as well as a strategy for sequentially addressing all 197 sites to rapidly and cost-effectively decrease potential health and environment damage.


This research (beginning in 2009) will develop methodologies similar to those developed for Tunisia to assess if obsolete pesticides pose serious hazards to ecosystems and the biodiversity of Mali. Of the 297 metric tons of obsolete pesticides in 246 storage sites identified by the Africa Stockpiles Program, 36 storage sites are located in the "Inner Niger Delta flooded Savanna,"a "critical/endangered" ecosystem. According to the IUCN 2009 Red List of Threatened Species, 25 species in Mali are "Vulnerable, Endangered, or Critically Endangered."

Research outputs
"Reducing the Human and Environmental Risks of Obsolete Pesticides," Abdelaziz Lagnaoui, Susmita Dasgupta, Craig Meisner, and Brian Blankespoor, 2010.

Stockpiles of Obsolete Pesticides and Cleanup Priorities: A Methodology and Application for Tunisia,” Susmita Dasgupta, Craig Meisner, and David Wheeler, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 4893, 2009.

Obsolete pesticides have accumulated in almost every developing country or economy in transition over the past several decades. Public health and environmental authorities are eager to reduce health threats by removing and decontaminating stockpile sites, but there are many sites, cleanup can be costly, and public resources are scarce. Under these conditions, it seems sensible to develop a methodology for prioritizing sites and treating them sequentially, as budgetary resources permit. This paper presents a methodology that develops cleanup priority indices for Tunisia. The approach integrates information on populations at risk, their proximity to stockpiles, and the relative toxic hazards of the stockpiles. The robustness of this approach is tested by varying model parameters widely and testing for stability in the rank-ordering of results. 

  • Susmita Dasgupta (Lead Researcher, World Bank)
  • David R. Wheeler (Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development)
  • Craig Meisner (World Bank)
  • Mainul Huq (World Bank)
  • Nlandu Mamingi (Professor of Economics at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados)
  • Nguyen Huu Dung (Director, Center for Environmental Economics and Sustainable Development (CEESD) and Faculty of Development Economics, University of Economics Hochiminh City, Vietnam)
  • Khuc Xuyen (Director of the Centre of Occupational & Environmental Health and Senior of the Project Office on Accident and Injury at the Vietnam Ministry of Health)

Last updated: 2009-08-25

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