29 May 2019: An African regional workshop on generating support for phasing out lead in paint focused on the need for effective laws, and aimed to raise awareness on the Lead in Paint Component of a Global Environment Facility (GEF)-supported project on ‘Global Best Practices on Emerging Chemical Policy Issues of Concern Under the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM).’

The workshop, which convened in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, from 28-29 May 2019, provided an overview of actions and advice recommended by the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint to support lead paint laws in the region. It addressed: available advice through the SAICM Lead Paint Project; a Model Law and Guidance for Regulating Lead Paint; health, economic and environmental impacts of lead; and lead testing in the region.

The workshop also provided participants with an understanding of steps required to develop regulatory approaches and laws for eliminating lead paint in the region, focusing on, inter alia: national communication activities; alternatives to lead paint and approaches for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs); and collaboration and cooperation with industry.

Specific presentations focused on, among other themes:

  • an overview of lead paint laws in Africa as of May 2019 and the legal limit in each country, including Algeria (5,000 parts per million (ppm)), Cameroon (90 ppm), Ethiopia (90 ppm), Kenya (90 ppm), Tanzania (90 ppm), and draft laws in Côte d’Ivoire, Uganda and Zambia;
  • regional approaches to regulating lead paint in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS);
  • a case study on lead paint in Ethiopia, which has regular paint tests, an awareness-raising campaign and industry support;
  • a case study on lead paint in Nigeria, where the 90 ppm lead standard has been in place since 2016, the Paint Manufacturers Association has agreed to comply with this regulatory limit, a roadmap on lead paint elimination and management has been adopted, and a national steering committee is in place; and
  • lead paint alternatives and a SME case study in Tunisia, where an awareness-raising campaign and partnerships were formed with relevant stakeholders.

Participants also discussed opportunities, barriers and next steps in eliminating lead in paint. Opportunities identified included: political will and increasing momentum across the region; existing lead paint data; the leveraging of inter-ministerial processes; industry and civil society support; availability of GEF advice; and existing alternatives to lead additives.

Some of the barriers identified included: the need for more collaboration between key ministries, industry, civil society and others in some countries; difficulties in leveraging resources; lack of information and data; lack of tools, such as for testing, to determine and enforce lead paint limits; and the need to communicate incentives for paint manufacturers to comply.

Next steps identified in the course of the workshop include: analyzing existing situations in countries on lead paint; raising public awareness on the need for lead paint laws; identifying civil society and industry “champions” to support efforts; holding stakeholder consultations; helping paint manufacturers identify alternatives to lead; drafting and adopting lead paint laws, for example by amending existing opportunities; and establishing feasible certification programmes to help consumers recognize safe paints. The workshop recommended a lead limit of 90 ppm.

The workshop was organized by the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead in Paint, the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and SAICM.

Regional workshops also convened for: the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and Central Asia region in Almaty, Kazakhstan, from 19-20 March 2019; the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region in Panama City, Panama, from 12-13 June; and the Asia-Pacific region in Bangkok, Thailand, from 21-22 August.

National Cleaner Production Centre (NCPC) launching workshops to provide assistance to SMEs on phasing out lead in paint convened in Amman, Jordan, from 31 March to 1 April, and in Peru, from 18-19 June, while another NCPC launch will take place in Beijing, China, from 16-17 October.

Eliminating lead in paint contributes to the achievement of, among others, SDG target 3.9 (reducing the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals, pollution and contamination) and SDG target 12.4 (achieving the environmentally sound management of chemicals and wastes and reducing their release to minimize adverse health and environmental impacts). [Africa Regional Workshop Concept Note and Agenda] [Workshop Report] [Lead in Paint Information on SAICM Website] [Information on Lead in Paint Component of SAICM/GEF Project] [Lead in Paint Component Briefing Note] [2018 Update on the Global Status of Legal Limits on Lead in Paint] [Lead Infographics] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on NCPC Launch Workshop for Ecuador, Peru and Colombia]


To combat lead poisoning and use, the Lead in Paint Component of the SAICM/GEF Project promotes regulatory and voluntary action by government and industry to phase out lead in paint. It seeks to achieve this by working with: governments to support the development of lead paint regulations; and SMEs to promote phasing out use of lead additives. The project seeks to achieve lead paint regulation in at least 40 countries and phase out lead from production processes of approximately 50 SME paint manufacturers. The project was launched in January 2019 during an inception workshop in Geneva, Switzerland, and will run through 2021.

In addition, UNEP and WHO established the Global Alliance to Eliminate Lead Paint to prevent children’s exposure and minimize occupational exposure to lead paints. The Alliance aims to phase out the manufacture and sale of lead paints and eliminate their risks. Each year, it organizes the International Lead Poisoning Prevention Week. Lead poisoning causes intellectual disabilities in approximately 600,000 children every year and can have lifelong health impacts. No known level of lead exposure is considered safe for adults or children.