Air pollution accounts for over seven million premature death annually, yet many African countries still lack reliable air quality data to make informed actions to reduce air pollution. As a result of the increasing greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions and its concentration in urban areas, the deterioration of air quality is becoming a public health issue in many African cities. According to the State of Global Air, the annual deaths due to particles in the air, have been steadily increasing over the last 30 years in Uganda, reaching over 27 000 in 2019.
In order to better manage this risk, Kampala included the issue of air quality and GHG monitoring in its Climate Change Action Strategy. This has been developed and implemented with the support from various partners, including AFD and the European Union (EU).
With a network of atmospheric sensors, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) started analysing air quality data to guide decision making , following this the Clean Air Action Plan, to guide air pollution control in the city, was developed. In this context, the Covenant of Mayors for Sub-Saharan Africa (CoM SSA) and its implementing partner Expertise France, are supporting the city to refine the data collection, to analyse these data sets and to implement activities to reduce air pollution.
“We are now implementing the action plan with activities aimed at reducing air pollution in the city,” said Dr Alex Ndyabakira, supervisor medical services at the KCCA. Among these activities, the city conducted a major campaign to raise awareness on the environmental and health impacts of air pollution.
During the Annual Air Quality Awareness Week that took place across the world in May, Makerere University AirQo Project and KCCA collaboratively organised a community clean-up to raise awareness to citizens. KCCA also organised a major press conference to update the public about air quality management, monitoring and interventions that have been implemented to improve it. The conference was attended by key partners in the sector such as the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), Makerere University AirQo Project and Lung Institute, and Uganda Public Health Fellowship Program. Dr Okello Daniel Ayen, Director of Public Health and Environment Directorate at the KCCA, highlighted the need for compliance, “we need to comply with recommended strategies aimed at improving air quality, adopting cleaner energy technologies, appropriate waste management and maintaining vehicles as per manufacturer’s guidelines to reduce exhaust emissions.”
In addition, KCCA participated in several television and radio talk shows to create awareness about the need for intensified efforts to improve air quality in the city. “Our air quality management is data-driven and evidence-based. So, we have decided to consolidate our efforts in the development of the KCCA Clean Air Action Plan, which calls for multisectoral involvement,” said Dr Alex Ndyabakira.
These much-needed awareness-raising activities go hand in hand with the improved knowledge of air pollutants initiated by Kampala under the CoM SSA project such as the study on air pollution sources and the installation of a new sensor that the city will receive soon. By knowing more about the sources of pollution, KCCA will be able to direct its control mechanisms more effectively and thus provide a healthier environment for its residents. By supporting this kind of action CoM SSA, an initiative funded by the EU, enables KCCA to turn its climate plan into concrete actions focused on achieving long-term sustainable urban development and improving the living environment of the population.
Pictured in the photo above from left to right: Dr. Kiggundu Thomas and Ms. Mackline Ninsiima (Field Epidemiology Fellows/UPHFP) with Dr. Alex Ndyabakira (KCCA Air Quality Management Team Lead), Dr. Daniel Okello Ayen (Director, Public Health and Environment, KCCA), Prof. Engineer Bainomugisha (Project Lead, AirQo), Mr. Arnold Waiswa Ayazika (Director, Environmental Monitoring and Compliance, NEMA) and Dr. Ivan Kimuli (Physician, Makerere University Lung Institute) at the launch of the 2022 Air Quality Awareness Week.