THE HAGUE, Netherlands—16 December 2020—Emergency response trainers from East African Community (EAC) Member States of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) strengthened their teaching skills during an online refresher course for instructors held on 15 December. The event was conducted by the OPCW in collaboration with the Population Protection Institute of the Czech Republic’s Fire Rescue Service.
OPCW’s Special Advisor on Assistance and Protection, Mr Shawn DeCaluwe, stated in his opening remarks: “EAC countries have already built a wealth of expertise in chemical emergency response. With this course we would like to deepen the instructors’ pool and provide a platform for dialogue and mutual learning.”
The course leader from the Population Protection Institute in the Czech Republic, Lt Col Ladislava Navrátilová, underlined: “Our Institute is committed to working with the OPCW to strengthen chemical safety and emergency preparedness in Africa.”
The course was aimed at military Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) specialists, fire and rescue instructors, and first responders who routinely share their expertise with less experienced colleagues in their home countries. It further built on the competencies established during previous trainings provided by the OPCW in the area of chemical emergency response, planning and management.
Participants tested their presentation skills by providing lectures on types and effects of chemical weapons, as well as protection, sampling, and decontamination methods. They also learned about teaching strategies to implement as instructors.
The course was attended by 12 participants representing the following four OPCW Member States: Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.
This training was part of a series, launched in 2016, of OPCW-led operational trainings in emergency response to chemical incidents or attacks held for Member States from the East African region.
The training programme aims to equip the participants with both theoretical knowledge and practical skills in handling emergencies involving toxic chemicals. The participants gain an understanding of the complexity and impact of an attack or incident. The programme also provides insights into current national and regional protective capacities against chemical weapons in the relevant Member States, as well as helping to build a regional pool of first responders capable of providing an effective emergency response.
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 is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons 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.