African countries urged to tackle air pollution

African countries have been urged to scale up financing for adaptation and management of air pollution. Kenya’s First Lady Her Excellency, Rachel Ruto, says there is an urgent need for African nations to tackle air pollution and climate change.

Her sentiments were issued in a speech delivered on her behalf by Arnold Tuwei an official from her office during the launch of Summary for Decision Makers (SDM) Report of the Integrated Assessment of Air Pollution and Climate Change for Sustainable Development in Africa, on Thursday at COP 27, Africa Pavilion, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

The Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), an international non-profit research organisation for sustainability policy and practice and whose Africa office is based in Nairobi, Kenya provided technical support and coordinated the assessment.

Commitment to curbing air pollution

“I am personally very passionate about tackling climate change and air pollution in Africa because I recognise that polluted air, especially from households that use woodfuel, transport and open burning of waste affect the most vulnerable of our population and these women and children. For this reason, I have supported programs that promote cutting emission of Short Lived Climate Pollutants and other pollutants in Kenya and beyond,” stated the First Lady.

She said findings in the report indicate that Africa has a huge opportunity to continue developing sustainably, improve human well-being, and protect nature by investing in solutions to fight climate change and air pollution together. “It also shows opportunities for instance improvements in clean cooking technologies, and sustainable waste management,” she stated.

Additionally, she  said  latest report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that nearly one in ten persons breathes polluted air causing over a million deaths in Africa with women and children being affected through exposure to harmful pollutants both indoors and outdoors.

Impact on development

The first Lady further observed that a combination of air pollution and climate change is creating a huge risk for Africa’s development. “According to the 6th  Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR6), despite having the lowest per capita greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) of all the world’s regions, Africa remains amongst the world’s most vulnerable regions to climate change. Thus, the continent faces a double burden of worsening air quality, and climate vulnerability,” she rued.

She said currently Kenya, is facing one of the worst droughts that has left 4.3 million severely affected most of whom are women and children who suffer from food, cooking energy and water insecurity as well as loss of livelihoods.

She however acknowledged Kenya is not unique for climate events have been recorded all around the globe with devastating impact on humanity and the ecosystems, natural resources and physical infrastructure.

Lauding scientific authors who participated in the initiative, she also congratulated the African Union for providing political leadership in the preparation of the Integrated Assessment of Air Pollution and Climate Change for Sustainable Development in Africa. Other partners recognised were United Nations Environmental Programme’s (UNEP), Regional Office for Africa and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC).

The initiative is the first-ever integrated assessment of air pollution and climate change for the continent and provides a scientific basis for action towards clean air in Africa. The report was developed by a pan-African team of researchers with contributions from international scientists and experts. Present during the event were researchers from different African countries involved in the research, Philip Osano, SEI Africa Centre Director and officials from several Kenyan ministries.

MAIN PHOTO: Anorld Tuei reading First Lady Rachel Ruto’s speech flanked by Dr. Philip Osano, Centre Director of Stockholm Environmental Institute Africa. JUSTUS WANZALA


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