There is need for collective efforts to beat air pollution, officials said on Wednesday in Kigali as Rwanda joined the rest of the world to mark the World Environment Day.
The day was celebrated in Kigali under the theme “Beat Air Pollution” featuring discussion on air pollution mitigation, its effects on human health and impact on attaining the Sustainable Development Goals.
Speaking at the celebrations, Coletha Ruhamya, the director general of Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA), called for collective responsibility to beat air pollution.
“We all need to contribute to fighting air pollution. Adopting clean alternative sources of energy for cooking, ensuring regular service of vehicles and avoiding open burnings are among the simple measures to beat air pollution,” she said.
Dr. Innocent Turate of the ministry of Health said air pollution leads to premature deaths for millions of people who die from respiratory and other diseases, including stroke, heart diseases that affect vulnerable people mostly elders, women and children.
UNDP Rwanda Country Representative Stephen Rodriques said time is now to take action, either individually or collectively to beat air pollution, starting from ending the use of single-use plastics from where people work and live and other simple measures.
Fatina Mukarubibi, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment noted that reducing air pollution will also reduce the burden of diseases.
Controlling the sources of emissions is the best way to go, she said, adding that it requires the combined efforts from individuals to government levels through policies, laws, regulations and actual activities for improving air quality.
She also called for everyone’s contribution toward improving the quality of air.
According to Inhee Chung, Rwanda Country Representative of the Global Green Growth Institute, Rwanda has strong political will and policy frameworks to beat air pollution and the task now is to bring different efforts together into a comprehensive green urbanization program.
Data on the sources of air pollution in Rwanda indicate that vehicle emissions are the leading cause of air pollution in Kigali and other urban areas, the minister of Environment said last week.
During the ceremony co-organized by the ministry of Environment and REMA, champions who are working to address pollution and raise awareness about the causes of air pollution and how to mitigate it were recognized.
More than 90 percent of people globally breathe polluted air and approximately seven million people die from air pollution-related causes every year, according to REMA.
Air pollution costs the global economy $5 trillion in welfare costs annually and ground-level ozone pollution is expected to reduce staple crop yields by 26 percent by 2030, it said.