Metropolitan Chief Executive (MCE) of Accra, Mohammed Adjei Sowah has called for a concerted effort to address the growing challenge of air pollution and its associated health implications in the City of Accra.
According to him, all stakeholders have a responsibility to play to minimize air pollution activities by cooking with clean fuels such as LPG and limit the use of charcoal and wood, halting the burning of garbage in households and neighbourhoods, reducing reliance on private vehicles and joining public transport and bicycles to work, and discarding obsolete technologies used in factories.
Mayor Sowah said this at a virtual meeting to mark the first UN International Day of Clean Air for blue skies in Ghana held on September 7th, 2020 under the theme "Clean Air for All".
The International Day of Clean Air for blue skies was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 19, 2019, during its 74th session to raise public awareness at all levels that clean air is important for health, productivity, the economy and the environment, demonstrate the close link of air quality to other environmental and developmental challenges such as climate change and the global Sustainable Development Goals.
The Day also aims to promote and facilitate solutions that improve air quality by sharing actionable knowledge best practices, innovations, and success stories as well as bring together diverse international actors working on this topic to form a strategic alliance to gain momentum for a concerted national, regional and international approaches for effective air quality management.
The Mayor disclosed that as part of Accra’s Climate Action Planning process stakeholders were being engaged to demonstrate the cities commitment towards the aims of the International Day for Clean Air.
" The city's plan is aimed at exploring and implementing solutions to the challenges which would help to address the city-specific dimensions to global issues. We find that these local goals align with the ambitions of the International Clean Air for Blue Skies Day...In Accra, we have realized that our main sources of air pollution are from transportation, waste burning and industrial processes. Our actions are therefore tailored to address these sources, “he said.
The Mayor announced that there were ongoing initiatives in Accra to leverage on low-cost air quality sensors to monitor air pollution levels in the city and provide high spatiotemporal data to influence air pollution control efforts of the Assembly to aid clear skies.
"We are aware of the collaboration between Ghana EPA and the US EPA as well as the launch of the Air Quality Management Plan in 2018 as the BreatheLife Project was launched here at Accra Metropolitan Assembly. The City is working alongside the EPA on this Plan to improve air quality in Accra. It is worth mentioning that the Ghana Urban Air Quality Project led by Dr Kofi Amegah of UCC has deployed over 10 sensors in strategic locations of Accra including the rooftop of City Hall and is enabling residents of Accra to know the quality of air in the neighbourhood in real time and advise themselves accordingly, " he said.
He mentioned that vehicular traffic was identified by researchers during the COVID-19 lockdown as a major contributor to air pollution in cities around the world including Accra adding that the Assembly was considering some sustainable interventions including strengthening its mass transit systems and constructing bicycle lanes to promote non-motorised transport in the city.
Deputy Minister for Environmental Science Technology and Innovation ( MESTI), Patricia Appiagyei in a keynote address said, the ministry through the Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA) and other collaborating Ministries Departments and Agencies ( MDAs) had developed quality standards to protect human health and the environment.
These she said include fuel quality standards which had led to the reduction of sulphur in fuel from 3000ppm to 50ppm, standards to control pollution from motor vehicles, the enactment of Act 917, LI 225 and the implementation of an e-waste management programme.
She also disclosed that MESTI with support from the World Bank was implementing the pollution management and environmental health programme to collect real-time regulatory data to help impact assessment and decision making adding that EPA had installed air quality device in specific locations within the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA).
She stressed the need for all stakeholders to play their part by acting more positively towards our environment to reduce pollution.
Mr Frank Safo a representative of the EPA in a contribution also stressed the need to intensify sensitization and engaged the youth to understand and appreciate the reality when it comes to polluting the air and its consequences
"It's about time, we do some collaborations. We being the enforcers and regulators, we have a lot to do. We need to have people. Citizens must be ready to embrace our stand and change behaviours," he said.