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FFEM Project: Building Capacity to Reduce Childhood Lead Poisoning in Bangladesh

the details…
Key pollutant
Date started
January 2023
French Fund for the Global Environment (FFEM)
Project Partners

ESDO, UNICEF, icddr,b, Stanford University, University of Dhaka

A major global problem, environmental lead pollution, whose Public health impacts are particularly alarming in Bangladesh as one of the countries in the world with the highest blood lead levels.

The FFEM project addresses the problem by relying on the weak exponential signals detected by population blood lead screening campaigns, demonstrating a situation of overexposure (high blood lead, lead poisoning) in the vicinity of informal recycling sites for used lead-acid batteries (ULAB). The project takes place in a context of demographic pressure, climatic and migratory stress and the country’s industrial development, which is accompanied by economic opportunities for the battery sector, in response to the challenges of mobility and energy transition. The project strategy proposed to deal with this situation, aims to strengthen the capacity of the public authorities to implement an environmental management policy for the sector on two levels: curative, with the rehabilitation of polluted sites existing, and preventive, with the supervision of professional practices in the lead-acid battery recycling sector and the environmental and health education of operators and populations.

The overall objective of the proposed project is to reduce lead pollution and to cooperate with the Government of Bangladesh in defining the tools, strategies and capacities needed to ensure environmentally sound management of used lead-acid batteries. The project aims to foster a regulatory environment and market conditions capable of transitioning from a non-compliant and informal BPAU recycling industry to a more environmentally sound formal industry.

The Specific objectives of the project are:

  • To provide the Government of Bangladesh, NGOs and the private sector with the appropriate tools, technical capacity and human and financial resources for environmentally sound management of used lead acid batteries
  • To provide the Government of Bangladesh with the economic tools to move the recycling of used batteries from the informal to the formal sector
  • To strengthen the capacity of the Government of Bangladesh to design and implement a program for the identification and remediation of priority recycling sites that are abandoned and contaminated with lead
  • To raise awareness of the environmental and health impacts of lead pollution among all stakeholders

The project’s monitoring and evaluation system includes indicators that will measure the evolution of battery recycling practices and the effectiveness of depollution operations at the pilot sites, contributing to the overall health of the territory while addressing the need for sustainability of formal battery recycling industries and the balance of this economic sector. From this perspective, Pure Earth has designed the project to be replicable, to benefit several communities and to be locally managed once the project is completed.