Participants at the just ended workshop on climate change and air Quality in Accra have identified waste burning, emissions from car exhaust and the use of firewood for cooking among others as the major cause of air pollution in Accra.
The two –day workshop was held by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) in collaboration with the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), UN- Habitat, World Health Organization (WHO), ICLEI-Local Government for Sustainability with support from the Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC).
The workshop focused on update on climate change developments and explored how to enable cooperation and coordination among all stakeholders at governmental levels to improve air quality and address climate change in Accra.
The participants in a recommendation at the end of the workshop stressed the need for clear identification of role for all key stakeholders with timeline and deliverables for accountability as well as a leading institution to foster collaboration and continue engagement to address the issues of climate change and air pollution in the city.
The Resilience and Sustainability Advisor to AMA, Desmond Appiah, who presented the recommendations at a press conference held yesterday disclosed that, participants agreed to develop an open source data platform to enable sharing of data and information, budget for the coordination activities, potentially using strategies such as a common pot and resource sharing as well as strengthen and upscale ongoing community -led activities, including activities for capacity building, data collection, information and outreach and intervention and with community leaders.
He also touched on continuing engagement with other Municipalities within the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA) to plan for concrete joint activities, the promotion of actions to increase individual and institutional ownership of the plan, improve communication channels, from official reporting and documentation to more agile forms of communication such as email trail and WhatsApp.
He pointed out that, sector specific recommendations was focused on transport, household energy, waste management, governance, communication, and finance.
“On transport, for instance participants recommended investment in mass transit, promotion of transport demand management strategies such as city compactness , decentralisation of services and measures to reduce trip distance and improve infrastructure to sustainably increase cycling and sustain walking levels as well as actions to improve the fleet’s fuel and technology on both private and public vehicles," he said.
Recommendation on waste management, Mr Appiah added touched on formulating policies and bylaws to set up waste separation and recycling aimed at reducing waste regeneration.
He also pointed out that setting up a scheme that allows for the replacement of cooking fuels from wood to gas for street venders was part of recommendations in the area of household energy adding that the allocation of funds to tackle climate change and improved air quality is key.
World Health Organization (WHO) representative for Ghana, Dr. Owen Kaluwa, advised all and sundry to adapt positive behaviours to reduce air pollution, improve the health of communities and mitigate climate change.
“All of us in our own small way can adapt positive behaviours which will reduce air pollution, improve the health of our communities and mitigate climate change” he said.
“The Local Government and all other stakeholders need to play their roles in ensuring short-lived climate pollutant (SLCP) are reduced significantly in Accra and across the country will benefit everyone” he added.
The Deputy Executive Director of Environment Protection Agency (EPA) Ghana, Ebenezer Appiah- Sampong , mentioned the transport sector as a major cause of air pollution in Africa adding that its economic cost of deaths of children is greater than unsafe sanitation.
“Transport is also known to be responsible for a large and growing proportion of urban air pollutant that impact health” he said.
“The estimated economic cost of these deaths is greater than that caused by unsafe sanitation or underweight children. Estimates of the economic cost to Africa alone of indoor and outdoor air pollution approach 250 billion dollars annually ( Roy 2016)”, he quoted.
Mr Ebenezer Appiah-Sampong said, “it is our hope that by 2025, the implementation of all these programs and recommendations including UHI will bring down air pollution in Accra in compliance with the National Air Quality Standards.”
Participants who attended the workshop, came from the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies across the country, ministries, departments and agencies as well as Lagos (Nigeria) and Dakar (Senegal).