Publication: Review of Urban Air Quality in Sub-Saharan Africa Region: Air Quality Profile of SSA Countries

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Schwela, Dieter
In Africa, urban outdoor air pollution is responsible for an estimated 49,000 premature deaths annually with indoor use of solid fuels being responsible for eight times this value, the main burden being borne by Sub Saharan African countries. Air pollution, outdoor and indoor, affects the health and life chances of millions of people in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA)every day. There is a link between air pollution and poverty since poor people are exposed to higher concentrations of air pollutants and tend to suffer disproportionately from the effects of deteriorating air quality (AQ). Children in cities exposed to high concentrations of air pollutants will more often develop respiratory ailments which prevent them from developing and learning well. As a consequence they will suffer in adult life from low levels of qualifications and skills. The implication of poorly educated children is not only a reduction of quality of their lives but also an obstacle for the economic development of a country as a whole. Rapid urbanization means increase in motorization and economic activity which in turn leads to increased air pollution if countermeasures are not taken. In view these linkages addressing urban AQ in SSA is particularly important. Air pollution in Sub Saharan cities appears to be on the rise with respect to many key pollutants. In some cities where monitoring has been performed levels of air pollution exceed World Health Organization recommended guidelines. The main cause of urban air pollution is the use of fossil fuels in transport, power generation, industry and domestic sectors. In addition, the burning of firewood, agricultural and animal waste also contributes to pollution levels. Pollutant emissions have direct and indirect effects with a wide range of impacts on human health, ecosystems, agriculture and materials. There is a growing need to determine the state of urban AQ and the challenges posed to solve it and identify the most effective measures to protect human health and the environment. Learning from experience and successes in urban AQ management (AQM) from other countries can assists in the formulation and implementation of strategies to achieve better AQ in Sub Saharan Africa. This report compiles the information provided by the 25countries in a harmonized way and gives an in-depth review of AQ in SSA with AQ profile of each country, presenting the country's main current urban AQ issues, emissions standards, ongoing projects, lessons learned from good/bad practices. It was attempted to compile this information also for additional SSA countries from available publications and internet sources.
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Schwela, Dieter. 2012. Review of Urban Air Quality in Sub-Saharan Africa Region: Air Quality Profile of SSA Countries. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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