KCCA Strengthens Efforts in Urban Air Quality Management through Comprehensive Training Initiative of its Staff

Ensuring clean air is a fundamental right for urban residents, yet achieving this has become a significant challenge for many cities globally, including Kampala.

In response to this pressing issue, the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), in partnership with the AirQo project at Makerere University, organized a training session on urban air quality management at the Fairway Hotel on Monday.

The training aimed to enhance the knowledge and capabilities of participants in managing urban air quality effectively.

Attendees, representing all divisions and directorates of Kampala, participated in the training designed to equip them with the necessary tools and expertise to address air pollution efficiently.

The session was led by Prof. Engineer Bainomugisha, the AirQo Project Lead, who stressed the importance of access to and the facilitation of evidence-based air quality data.

“To effectively combat air pollution and manage urban environments, we must prioritize the availability and utilization of accurate air quality data,” Bainomugisha stated.

The training sessions focused on improving participants’ skills in air quality data analysis and effective communication, alongside enhancing their understanding of various air quality monitoring tools.

Emphasizing the urgency of the issue, the 2021 World Air Quality Report revealed that Kampala is among the most polluted cities worldwide, with pollution levels exceeding World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines by five to seven times in all monitored areas.

Major sources of this pollution include dust from unpaved roads, the domestic use of solid biomass for energy, vehicle emissions (both exhaust and non-exhaust), industrial emissions, and the open burning of solid waste.

Fidel Raja, an air quality expert, highlighted the importance of air quality management by defining it as the measure of how clean or polluted the air is.

He warned that poor air quality, containing harmful chemical pollutants, poses severe health risks and damages the ecosystem.

The urgency of addressing air pollution was underscored by the new State of Global Air 2024 report from the Health Effects Institute (HEI), which ranks air pollution as the second leading risk factor for death globally, accounting for 8.1 million deaths annually.

In Uganda alone, declining air quality is responsible for over 26,000 deaths each year.

Dr. Alex Ndyabakira, the Makindye Division Medical Officer, emphasized the need for a multi-sectoral approach to air quality management in his presentation.

“Everyone has a role to play in mitigating air pollution,” Ndyabakira said.

He advocated for the development of a city air quality management policy, division-led awareness and sensitization campaigns to control pollution, and an increase in clean energy use in schools.

Kampala is already making significant progress in addressing air pollution by monitoring air quality with an extensive network of sensors. The city has installed over 100 air monitors, making it one of the leading cities in Africa in terms of air quality monitoring infrastructure.