92 per cent of people do not breathe clean air, environmental experts warn

By Elias Hakizimana.

The ministry of environment has alerted people to the dangers of air pollution revealing that the challenge is also affecting Rwanda.

Vincent Biruta the minister of environment said sources of air pollution include vehicles emissions, industries, burning charcoal and firewood and others.

“Air pollution is the fourth killer worldwide as it causes respiratory diseases and cancer,” he said and quoted UN Environment that 6.5 million people die every year due to breathing polluted air and that 3.8 people die of polluted indoor air pollution especially in poor countries.

In 2012 more than 2,000 deaths were attributed to ambient air pollution.

Between 2012 and 2015 in Rwanda, the number of hospital admissions for acute respiratory infections in health centers across the country increased by almost double to more than 3.3 million

Data from World Health Organization (WHO) show that 9 out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants meaning that 92 per cent of people worldwide do not breathe clean air.

Updated estimations   reveal an alarming death toll of 7 million people every year caused by ambient (outdoor) and household air pollution.

According to UN Environment, air pollution costs the global economy $5 trillion every year in welfare costs while ground-level ozone pollution is expected to reduce staple crop yields by 26 per cent by 2030 if not curbed.

“We have laws that help us to track sources of air pollution and take preventive measures. Studies showed that in Kigali city car emissions are on top while in upcountry burning biomass on top,” he said.

He said that testing vehicles for emissions as well as reducing number of private owned cars will help cope with huge emissions.

“Very soon, we will have electric vehicles on the market. This is one of measures to curb air emissions,” he said.

He added use of cooking gas, briquettes, and pellets will continue to replace use of firewood and charcoal use.

“Planting forests is also one of measures to curb air pollution. Each person should plant trees around the homes, gardens and in the farms. We are targeting 30 per cent forest cover next year,” he said.

Coletha Ruhamya,  the Director General of Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA) added that they will carry out industrial air pollution testing during the environment week activities before world Environmental day on 5th June 2019.

Other activities   include awareness on air pollution through mass sport, emphasizing on the role played by forests to curb air pollution.

Furthermore, officials said that the activities will include motor vehicle inspection campaign, industrial air pollution testing, and study tour to Air Quality Reference Station seminar with scientists working in Rwanda, solar power installation for the reduction of indoor pollution inspection on plastic pollution and others.

The environmental day’s theme is “Air pollution”.

Globally, the day was incepted in 1972 and in 2010 Rwanda was its world host while this year China will host its celebrations.

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,(www.rwandainspirer.com) is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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