THE HAGUE, Netherlands—11 May 2023— Emergency response trainers from the East African Community (EAC) Member States of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) enhanced their teaching skills during an online course for instructors held in April this year. The event was conducted by the OPCW in collaboration with the Population Protection Institute (PPI) of the Czech Republic’s Fire Rescue Service.
The two-day online refresher course was the first of its kind to be coordinated from the new OPCW Centre for Chemistry and Technology (ChemTech Centre). The classroom in this purpose-built facility enabled effective communication with instructors from the EAC and PPI experts.
“Sustainable capacity building is key to strengthening regional response capabilities against chemical incidents. With this course, we would like to deepen the instructors’ pool and provide a platform for dialogue and mutual learning,” said Ms Kazumi IkedaLarhed, Director of the OPCW Division for International Cooperation and Assistance.
The PPI course leader, Ms Ladislava Navrátilová, remarked: “The purpose of this course is to equip participants with the skills needed to train others how to manage chemical incidents. Our institute is committed to working with the OPCW to enhance chemical safety and emergency preparedness in Africa.”
The main focus of the online course was to assess EAC instructors’ teaching skills and theoretical knowledge on specific topics related to:
- properties and symptoms of chemical agents;
- protection of personnel during a chemical emergency;
- reconnaissance operations;
- hot-zone management procedures, including detection identification and monitoring, sampling procedures and decontamination;
- laboratory safety procedures and analysis.
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 various teaching strategies.
The course was attended by 15 participants representing the following four OPCW Member States: Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.
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 99% 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.