Kampala is working to improve air quality for its citizens with a study to measure and mitigate air pollutants in the city

Published: 7 Dec 2022
Kampala is working to improve air quality for its citizens with a study to measure and mitigate air pollutants in the city

Kampala’s air quality is deteriorating at an alarming rate and posing severe public health, environmental and economic effects such as morbidity, mortality, and low economic competitiveness, to name a few. 

Monitoring air quality is key to developing solutions to mitigate air pollution, and meet public health, environmental, research and climate change goals for Kampala. The Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) Strategic Plan 2020-2025 sets out a clear objective to reduce and address disaster and climate risks through effectively addressing air pollution and air quality challenges. Although KCCA cannot yet effectively monitor and implement a city-wide air quality policy, the Covenant of Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA), the European Union and its implementing partner Expertise France (EF) are supporting the local authorities to measure air quality more effectively in the city.

How the air quality will be measured

Through this support, KCCA will undertake a 3-month study to measure the sources of air pollutants, understand the distribution of emissions that impact air quality, and identify the main sources of inhalable (PM10) particulate matter and fine (PM 2.5) particulate, which will be sampled and analysed in the laboratory. Particulate matter has different chemical compositions. Particulate matter smaller than 10 micrometres can enter our lungs and cause serious health problems.

The particulate matter samples collected in Kampala will be analysed for heavy metals and; organic and elemental carbon using machinery capable of measuring fine particle sources. The results of the study will help to develop and guide effective policies and interventions to manage air quality and understand its implications on the well-being of citizens and the environment.

Collaboration to strengthen the management of air quality data

The data collection team will work in collaboration with air quality technical officers from KCCA to support the city in capacity building on air quality and sustaining the existing city-to-city collaboration. Future activities will include a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions baseline inventory and a capacity-building programme for municipal staff.

In collaboration with the Makerere University Lung Institute, the capacity of the KCCA health directorate staff will also be strengthened to effectively collect and manage air quality data, conduct analyses from these data, and better integrate them into public health policy-making.

David LUYIMBAZI, the Deputy Executive Director of KCCA, affirmed the full support of the local authorities for this initiative and pledged KCCA’s commitment towards improving air quality management for the city. “At KCCA, we will continue to cherish an approach where decision-making is guided by evidence,” he said. 

The study was designed in consultation with KCCA, the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and other stakeholders for several months. A consultative kick-off meeting was held in November to demonstrate the plans of the study to stakeholders. In addition, it allowed them to contribute data and advice from previous experiences in the same field. The air quality study is planned to start in January 2023.

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