pure air

AirQo pushes for clean air for better health

By Edwin Muhumuza

Ugandans have been urged to desist from activities that contribute to poor air quality.

This is was said at the commemoration of the 14th annual Air Quality Awareness Week 2020.

The week-long celebrations were held under the theme “Better Air, Better Health,” with the aim of raising awareness on air quality and its effect on health.

Their concerns come amid the deteriorating air quality which is not only imposing a health burden on City residents but is also making the city unattractive for visitors and investments.

Most of these activities include burning rubbish and idling engine in traffic with calls now to adopting cleaner cooking initiatives, servicing cars in time, and minimizing driving and embracing carpooling and non-motorized transportation during peak pollution hours.

Among the participants were the U.S. Mission Kampala, AirQo of Makerere University, Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), and the National Environment Management
Authority (NEMA)

The ,KCCA Executive Director,Engineering Andrew Kitaka noted that in addition to the 25 air quality monitors deployed within the city, KCCA had put in place interventions such as paving of roads to reduce dust with now over 210Km of roads completed and many more currently under construction. He further added that they were ensuring traffic control measures like signalization of junctions to improve traffic , the enforcement of the tobacco control act to reduce smoking in public and also working with industries on cleaner production.

The Project Lead at AirQo Prof. Engineer Bainomugisha,said that the first step in being
able to improve air quality is being able to measure it,however, reference-grade monitors are extremely expensive, and as a result, limits the scale of air quality monitoring a situation that requires more funding.

Finally in her submission,the Senior Environmental Inspector, NEMA, Jenifer Kutesakwe,noted that the proposed interventions by other stakeholders were a step in the right direction and only if human activities are moderated,while involving members of the public, then the goal to achieve clean air would be quickly attainable.

In recent years, Kampala has been cited to be among the highly polluted cities in Africa with air pollution levels over six times higher than the World Health Organizations air quality guidelines.

This was courtesy of, the AirQo project from the College of Computing and Information Sciences, Makerere University which designed and deployed over eighty (80) low-cost air quality monitors across Uganda built locally and uniquely designed to withstand the environmental and physical conditions such as dust and extreme weather conditions.

However, the recent analysis carried out by AirQo and NEMA on the effects of restriction on movement during the COVID-19 lock down, there was a drop in air pollution by up to 40% for Particulate Matter and more than 60% for Nitrogen Oxide(NO2) .This was largely a result of slow-down in traffic, commercial and other pollution generating activities.