Nairobi chosen for $20m air quality plan

Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja.

Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

In Sharm-el-Sheikh

Nairobi and two other cities have been selected for the Clean Air Catalyst program that will see the devolved government get a share of the collective US$20 million (Sh2.4 billion) to accelerate local solutions to air pollution.

Speaking in a panel session at the ongoing COP27 convention in Egypt, Nairobi County Governor Johnson Sakaja said there are plans to hold industries accountable for how much poisonous air they release and equating it to how many trees they are required to plant.

“We have a number of young innovators who are up to the challenge. There is an air monitoring device that was invented by one of them. When we endorse that as a government then it will help build a structured plan to deal with air pollution,” he said.

The Governor and Kenya Climate Change Working Group (KCCWG) Chairman John Kioli sat in a panel session with representatives from India and Indonesia highlighting the importance of integrated objectives and collaboration to the Clean Air Catalyst, a global partnership launched by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2020.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 99 percent of the world’s population lives in places where air quality guideline levels are not met. WHO states that combined effects of ambient air pollution and household air pollution is associated with 7 million premature deaths annually, especially in low and middle income countries.

The global health agency states that poor air quality is responsible for more than 19,000 deaths in Kenya each year.

According to Clean Air Catalyst, the worst air quality is found in informal settlements where more than 70 percent of Nairobi residents live.

The collaboration aims to bring together municipal governments, civil societies and the community to build a shared understanding of the root causes of pollution.

John Kioli said that it is important for civil societies to be at the forefront of the project because they amplify the available policies and government laws.

“More than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in urban areas. Many people are living in conditions that are affecting their health, supply of clean water and energy because of pollution. If we do not do anything in Kenya to fix the situation by 2050, our GDP will go down by 15 percent,” he said.

He also pushed for more awareness in communities to stop using charcoal and other harmful energy sources that would later on affect their health.

Both air quality and climate action depend on the ability of local governments and organisations to mobilise domestic resources and external finance. Cities often have more control over sources of air and climate pollution because they are local. However, a tremendous gap exists between the resources that cities need and what they receive.

The other two cities that were selected for the program are Jakarta in Indonesia and Indore in India.

This story was produced with the support of Climate Tracker.