The Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago returns back to Uganda after the great honour of being one of the key Speakers at the First World Health Organisation Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health hosted at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland under the theme; “Improving Air Quality, Combating Climate change and Saving lives”.
This was co-sponsored by the UN Environment, World Meteorological Organisation, the UN Framework Convention on Climate change, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, World Bank etc.
His presentation focused on tackling Air Pollution in cities – Improving health and climate. While there, he highlighted the salient areas of the Kampala Climate Change Action Strategy which was designed in 2016 under the aegis of the Covenant for Mayors in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the assistance of the European Union, French Development Agency, among others. The Action plan lays out a road map to Kampala’s sustainability goals with the key object of reducing the city’s emissions, enhancing resilience to climate change impacts and creating opportunities in the green/circular economy.
He also pointed out the dire state of the ambient air quality in the only city we have in the Pearl of Africa; which is exacerbated by excessive use of biomass for cooking and lighting as opposed to renewable energy, highly motorised mobility leading to excessive emissions, poor waste disposal practices, including open incineration and burning of refuse, little green cover with limited capacity to absorb the carbon emissions generated, poor government policies on environmental management etc.
He further noted with concern that; Kampala and indeed the entire country, is still relying more on qualitative (odour and sight) than quantitative indicators to monitor and assess the ambient quality of our air!.
As a city we have only two privately owned monitoring stations at the US Embassy, which measures PM 2.5 hourly data and Makerere University School of Public Health, which is more of a research project.
*The Good news is that the French Government offered to support the installation of Smart Solar lights on our major Streets, with inbuilt air quality monitoring units.*
He used the same occasion to invite and implore the UN partner states to work out a mechanism that will compel all States signatories to various international instruments to honour their commitments and Obligations. For example Uganda and many African states have flagrantly reneged on their commitments under the Abuja Declaration of 2001 to commit at least 15% of the budget to health( currently it stands at 9.3%); The Paris Agreement on reduction of emissions; 2030 Development Agenda or Sustainable development goals etc.
The first day ended on a high note as it coincided with the World Cities Day, 31st October, which was declared by the UN General Assembly Resolution 68/239 to promote the international community interest in Urbanisation and the associated challenges.