Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology through the Institute of Energy and Environmental Technology (IEET) organized a two-day workshop on February 24th and 25th, 2022 in collaboration with African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS) and National Environment Trust Fund (NETFUND) to educate and build capacity of counties on air pollution management.
The workshop comes at time when air pollution has been ignored as one of the most prevalent environmental health risks in recent years despite its significance in contributing to high mortality rate globally.
In Kenya, for instance, about 18,000 people die annually from ailments associated with air pollution, with Nairobi Metropolitan area having the most deteriorating air quality. The key air pollutants in the Metropolitan area (Nairobi, Kiambu, Machakos and Kajiado counties) exceed the WHO recommended thresholds; leaving over 4.7 million residents exposed to air pollution health risks.
“What does it profit a person to operate so many industries and die at a young age due to air pollution?” posed the Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Academic Affairs, Prof. Robert Kinyua, while presiding over the official opening of the workshop at JKUAT.
Prof Kinyua said there is need for urgent intervention to manage air pollution within the Nairobi Metropolitan area,” he added.
Manager, Resource Mobilization, NETFUND, Mr. Chrispin Omondi said, in the spirit of intervening to manage the damaging effects of air pollution, NETFUND was working with her partners namely; Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), ACTS and JKUAT to support the Metropolitan counties to develop and implement robust policies, legislations, strategies and action plans which are essential in managing air pollution.
According to Mr. Omondi, who was representing the Director, Resource Mobilization, Business Development and Programmes, Dr. James Njagu, the policy development process started way back in 2017 with SEI supporting the Nairobi County to develop its air quality action plan.
“I believe that the County has so far made great strides with its air quality bill currently at public participation stage,” he noted.
Director, IEET, Prof. Joseph Kamau said, despite the efforts being taken to control air pollution in the metropolis, there exists an ambiguity in the roles of the national and county government in managing air pollution.
He attributed this to under-staffing in the environment departments with very few or no air quality experts or officers available with knowledge on air pollution and management.
While awarding certificates to the training participants, Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Research, Production and Extension, Prof. Mary Abukutsa urged them to be ambassadors of change through prevention of any form of pollution as change begins with them.
The workshop was also attended by over 20 officials from IEET, ACTS and NETFUND as well as county government officials from Nairobi, Kiambu, Machakos and Kajiado counties.