Kampala, surrounding areas, highly polluted –AirQo

By Edwin Muhumuza

Uganda has made a huge stride towards improving air quality monitoring and forecasts in order to mitigate risks caused by air pollution.

This courtesy of Makerere University’s AirQo project which was launched by ICT and National guidance Minister Judith Nabakooba.

While Presiding over the event, she noted that the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development adopted by all UN members in 2015 recognizes ICT as a key tool for environmental protection under the SDG 13 which calls for taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

The event which started in the morning had participants discuss and analyze findings of the study and raise policy concerns of ensuring that pollution and its environmental impacts are mitigated.

Some of the issues raised was that there is need for nationwide campaigns to plant trees that ensure clean air, adoption of clean energy, regulation of transport mostly involving taxis and boda boda’s coupled with the introduction of buses in a bid to limit dangerous exhaust gas emissions.

Relatedly, participants suggested that industries adopt better means of filtering their gas emissions. Their views were in sync with, those of the minister of ICT who said that environmental protection is one of the greatest challenges of our times and its adverse effects undermine the ability of countries to achieve sustainable and equitable national development.

According to the findings, of the report ,the central region, notably Kampala and Wakiso areas experience high concentration of pollution in the peak hours of the day, that is between midday and during sunset. This as a result of increased human activity, and the sun’s heat.

The study also shows that areas located near the Lake Victoria, down south, were less polluted and yet, while heading north east, pollution levels there were hazardous as a result of the many factories and industries in the region.

According to Nabakooba,It is important to note that Increases in air pollution, global temperature, sea-level rise, ocean acidification and other climate changes have adverse effects on food security, diseases incidences and other support systems, however, the widespread use of ICTs has great potential to accelerate the development of scientific and technological innovation for environmental protection.

Project Lead Prof. Engineer Bainomugisha said that lack of air quality data to quantify the magnitude and scale of air pollution levels is a big challenge in Uganda and across the African continent but that the first step in being able to improve air quality is to be able to measure it.

“The AirQo project fills in this gap by creating low-cost air pollution monitoring devices designed to work in the unique contexts of African cities,” he further added.

Paul Greene, AirQo’s lead researcher notes that data collected by the project will go a long way in supporting policy geared towards ensuring a higher quality of life among urban dwellers.