Kampala Capital City Authority, KCCA has installed 25 monitors across the 5 urban divisions of Kampala city to monitor air pollution across seasons.
The development follows an increase in the number of deaths caused by illnesses related to air pollution.
Air pollution contributes to over 7 million premature deaths annually. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 80% of populations in monitored urban centers are exposed to ambient pollution levels above the health guidelines.
In Uganda, it is estimated that over 30,000 people die annually due to air pollution-related illnesses.
Makerere University through the AirQo initiative has developed a wide network of low-cost monitoring devices that continuously provide data on the extent of air pollution in major cities in Uganda.
The information picked in Kampala is used to design strategies to curb down pollution in the city including areas of priority for tarmacking of roads, non-motorized ways and signaling of road junctions.
A study done last year during the countrywide lockdown revealed a drop of up to 60% of the nitrogen dioxide from vehicular exhaust emission within the Kampala city Centre.
Particulate matter pollution equally registered a 40% drop. This means that regulating the emissions from vehicular emissions and other sources would greatly reduce the air pollution around the city and Uganda.
According to a joint statement released by KCCA in partnership with Airqo, Makerere University and NEMA to commemorate the 15th annual Air Quality Awareness Week (AQAW) 2021, it was revealed that findings from the pilot source apportionment study, an ongoing collaboration between the U.S. Air Quality Science Fellows and Uganda air quality community facilitated by the US Mission in Kampala, indicate that pollution largely comes from biomass burning, direct exhaust emissions and dust.
“Long-term monitoring data shows that pollution is highest in the morning and evening, and lowest in the afternoon during hot sunny days, while the average concentration is about 55 Âµg/m3, this is 5 times more than the WHO Public Health guidelines.”
Dr. Tom Okurut the Executive Director National Environment Management Authority, NEMA told the media in Kampala this morning, that the body has been leading the development of National Environment Air Quality Standards for Uganda, which will among other things set parameters and limits for the protection of public health, industrial emissions limits beyond which industries and other facilities should not exceed.
He added that the Air Quality Standards will also focus on vehicular emission limits to manage and control emissions from automobiles as well as occupational health and safety standards limiting pollution exposure for workplaces.
“Without air quality data, it is very difficult to raise awareness of the emerging issues, and for the government, businesses and individuals to know which actions to take to improve air quality and protect public health. Therefore, there is a need for enhanced sectoral monitoring to know what the dominant sources of air pollution are.
It is important to know the extent of air pollution and devise appropriate actions to improve the air quality in our Uganda” Dr. Okurut said.
This year’s theme for the annual Air Quality Awareness Week (AQAW) is ‘Healthy air - Important for everyone.”
The Air Quality Awareness Week is an opportunity to raise awareness about the impact of air pollution on human health, economies, and the environment as well as actions people can take to reduce health risks.
KCCA is also developing a Kampala clean air action plan with support from United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to guide coordinated activities for cleaning Kampala air and spell out all activities aimed at reducing air pollution in Kampala city.