19.2.3 Industrial wastewater management
Effluent means wastewater of any type that is discharged (flows out) from a pipe or other structure.
Effluent produced by an industry should meet the national guideline values of wastewater quality before it is released into rivers, streams or even municipal sewer systems. However, it is beyond your mandate to check on this. If you have any concerns, you should request inspection by experts such as occupational and environmental health officers in the district or higher administrative bodies. Given the expansion of agricultural-led industrialisation in rural Ethiopia, the challenge of industrial pollution is likely to increase in the future. In accordance with the law vested with the Ethiopian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), industrialists have to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and produce an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before they commence the construction of any new industrial development (see Box 19.1). In your role as a community healthworker, you can assist a relevant expert by providing the necessary information to your immediate supervisor to facilitate the enforcement of environmental law in your locality. You are not expected to take actions by yourself. Public health complaints by community members should also be communicated to the relevant officers for timely action.
Box 19.1 Environmental Impact Assessment
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is a preliminary step in in the planning phase of major development projects. It is a systematic process of assessing the possible impacts that a proposed project may have on the environment. The process usually requires the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that should report on the findings of the EIA and recommend ways of reducing or mitigating any negative environmental impacts, including possible alternative actions.
In Ethiopia, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is responsible for ensuring EIAs are undertaken for major projects. Established in 2002, the EPA’s mission statement is to enhance good environmental governance through ‘removing the constraints faced by public agents, individuals, civil society and the private sector to know, explore and utilize fully their own potentials to enlarge their choices for understanding their respective functions in an environmentally sound manner’.