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The Impact of Air Pollution in Nairobi

News: Mar 23, 2015

A fire in central Nairobi photo MArie ThynellA fire along one of the busiest streets in the centre of Nairobi, Jogoo Road. Photo by Marie Thynell.

-The air in Nairobi is poisonous and cause serious ailments including heart and lung diseases as well as cancer. The amount of cancer-causing elements in the air within the city is 10 times higher than the threshold recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), says Marie Thynell, Associate Professor in Peace and Development Research at School of Global Studies.

Recently Marie Thynell was co-organizer of the workshop To confront the deadly air pollution in informal settlements of Nairobi, Kenya that was held in Nairobi and attracted a lot of interest from local stakeholders, politicians and civil society organizations such as The Kenya Alliance of Resident Associations (KARA), Nairobi.
-Policy makers are generally aware of the problem and the Eastern Africa Regional Framework Agreement on Air Pollution was developed to approach these issues but information about the toxic emissions are still lacking. Measurements of the in situ (in place) air quality are needed, as well as surveys of the adverse effects on the ecosystem services and on the inhabitants and their perceptions in Nairobi.

A research collaboration between the University of Gothenburg (School of Global Studies, Gothenburg Atmospheric Science Center and Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology) and the University of Nairobi (Institute of Development Studies, Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology), The Earth Institute at Columbia University in New York, University of Umeå, Centre for Global Health Research and the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) was established last year.
-Some of the topics covered in the project are: Are poor communities more at risk from certain sources of pollution, if so which ones and why? Which are the cause-specific conditions in slum areas? Which occupations entail high health risks - for example, drivers, street vendors, or traffic police and what can be done about this? Are certain populations more at risk? Can we use technology to produce approximate air quality maps for the city to better visualize the problems in the city and highlight equity issues? This would help give detailed understanding of the impacts on various social groups, women and men and hence help tailor interventions and explore social justice questions linked to air quality in the city.

The digram shows the carbon content in NairobiWith a brand new and groundbreaking method Johan Mellqvist, Associate Professor at the department of Earth and Space Sciences, Chalmers University of Technology measured the carbon content in the air outside the car window in Nairobi on Friday 13 March.
-The diagram shows how it was hour by hour and place of location in the city. This technology was brought from Gothenburg and it was the first time such measurement was made in Kenya.

The economic survey of 2014 indicated that respiratory infections caused the highest number of illnesses in Kenya in 2013 with 14,823,864 cases being reported. The air pollution scenario in Nairobi and other cities within the region is uncontrolled and worrisome.
-The purpose of this interdisciplinary collaboration is to bridge the knowledge gap regarding air quality and city development, contribute to poverty reduction and to implement policies towards the development of a healthier and more sustainable city development.

The workshop was very successful and well covered in the press. Several national and international organizations such as the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the National Environmental Management Authority in Kenya, the African Development Bank (AfDB), The Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA), Kenya Metereological Services, KMS, National Environment Management Authority, NEMA, and the County of Nairobi showed great interest and also wants to collaborate to establish Clean Air Nairobi.


Page Manager: Amie Almström|Last update: 4/11/2016

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