Environmental and Health Risks of Pesticide Use in Ethiopia


Background: There are frequent reports of unsafe pesticide use in many parts of Africa. Ethiopia is the second most populous nation in Africa with around 80% of the population still depending on agriculture which intensively uses pesticides. A number of studies have examined pesticide-related health and environmental risks in Ethiopia. However, most of these studies have been small in scale and it is therefore challenging to get a general overview of the extent of health risks and level of environmental contamination in the country.

Objectives: The aim of the present study was to synthesize and summarize contemporary knowledge on pesticide-related risks and relevant gaps in Ethiopia.

Methods: An electronic database search and gathering of grey literature were done to collect information on the risks of pesticide use in Ethiopia. The electronic search was conducted using MEDLINE (via PubMed) without any publication date or language specifications. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta Analyses (PRISMA) checklist was used as guide in the creation of this review.

Discussion: A synthesis of the reviewed studies showed evidence of health risks due to occupational pesticide exposure, surface water pollution with pesticides that could cause chronic health risks to the public, evidence of pesticide contamination of the environment (e.g., soil organisms, fish, bee colonies and wildlife) and local as well as international consumer risks due to pesticide residues in food items. In addition, there have been frequent reports of health and environmental hazards in association with cut-flower farms. There is also evidence of direct use of DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) on food crops and detection of DDT residues in surface water, soil and human breast milk. Those reported risks might be due to lack of knowledge among farm workers, negligence of farm owners, absence of post-registration monitoring systems and poor implementation of both national and international regulations in Ethiopia due to poor institutional capacity. Conclusions: The health and environmental risks of inappropriate use of pesticides requires action by all concerned bodies. Improved institutional arrangements for enforcement of regulations, awareness and further intervention studies could lessen the high risks of pesticide misuse.

Competing interests: The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Authors: Beyene Negatu, Sisay Dugassa, Yalemtshay Mekonnen
; Full Source: Journal of health & pollution 2021 May 28;11(30):210601. doi: 10.5696/2156-9614-11.30.210601.