During the civil war of the mid-1990s, large-scale destruction of social infrastructure and environmental management systems occurred in Algeria, leading to significant environmental deterioration. In the course of national reconciliation and the reconstruction process that began in 2000, environmental authorities were established and, with the support of international donor agencies, the national environmental policy, plan, and strategy were prepared. While these efforts shaped Algeria’s environmental management administration system into its modern form, they have not been effective in actually controlling environmental problems in the country.
Under these conditions, the unexpected discovery of a severe mercury contamination had a major effect on the situation in the country. The discovery itself was announced at a public seminar, and Japan’s experience with industrial mercury pollution as a result of the “Minamata Disease incident” was widely shared with the public through mass media. The wide reporting of these experiences as well as others of pollution in local cities by the mass media, accelerated public concerns and eventually formed public opinions into a demand for immediate depollution efforts. The environmental management administration became functional at this time and backed by growing public awareness and strict law enforcement, it started to conduct specific countermeasures against mercury pollution.
The Algerian case suggests that raising public awareness through the disclosure of information on environmental monitoring may trigger the realization of an effective environmental management administration system.
Keywords: capacity development, environmental management administration, pollution, information disclosure, public awareness