Rwanda has launched a new Air Quality Monitoring System which provides access to real-time air quality information through a new website and mobile application (App).
The application and website were launched during a virtual conference to World Clean Air Day Celebration in Rwanda Tuesday, 7 September 2021.
The Rwanda Air Quality Monitoring System is built to provide data on the quality of the air in 23 sites across the country which is seen in a real-time using the Air Quality Index (AQI) measures in numerical and color code format for each station.
The system designed in collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology and implemented by Rwanda Environment Management Authority and the Ministry of Education was developed under the Air Quality and Climate Change Monitoring Project, funded by the Rwanda Green Fund (FONERWA).
The Ministry of Environment said the system strengthens Rwanda’s existing field installed air quality monitoring network by providing online access to pollution readings from each station as well as data management including data sharing mechanisms.
“It will also help Rwanda to compare ground observations with satellite data through remote sensing technology to verify their accuracy, said Patrick Karera Permanent Secretary Ministry of Environment, who represented the Minister Dr. Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya.
In Rwanda, air pollution is a growing environmental and public health challenge caused by transport emissions being the leading cause of air pollution in urban areas – and the impact is particularly felt along busy roads where many schools are located; industries and burning wood and charcoal for cooking which not only depletes forest resources, but also causes significant respiratory illness – especially for children.
Rwanda has a zero air pollution target by 2050 and some initiatives in place include; Promoting clean cooking and the transition to cleaner fuels for cooking, Phasing out heavy fuel oil generators and investing in renewable energy generation, Creating incentives and investing in e-mobility and public transport, research and development to understand the causes and consequences and introducing Euro 4 emissions standards for vehicles.
Others include implementing Car Free Day in Kigali and secondary cities and conducting vehicle and industry emissions testing.
Karera said while these initiatives are yet to reach the scale needed to fully address air pollution in Rwanda, they are moving the country in the right direction, there is need for private sector to come on board.
“We call on the private sector to play their part to improve our air, and provide a safe and healthy environment in which our kids can grow and develop. Companies can join the effort by tracking and reducing air pollutants and greenhouse gases from facilities and supply chains and investing in and promoting products, solutions, and technologies that cut emissions and reduce pollution,” Karera said.
The PS said that Rwandans to use of the Air Quality Monitoring System as it is a revolution in how we understand and respond to the challenge of poor air quality.
“We can assess in real time and respond immediately. This tool will be invaluable to improve the health and well-being of all Rwandans and build the country’s reputation as a preferred destination for investment, travel and events,” he said.
This was emphasized by messages from two young students (Keila and Abiella) from Kigali Parents School and Green Hills Academy who also made a strong call to action for all.
The Director General Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) Juliet Kabera thanked all partners jointly who enabled Rwanda’s effort to beat air pollution through technical and financial support and called for the switch to sustainable energy sources.
“Air pollution is a global challenge, and Rwanda is not immune from the harm it causes. I encourage you to think about how you can reduce the air pollution you create – from switching to electric or gas cooking to planting trees, walking more and not idling your car, there are many things we can all do,” Kabera said.
Today, more than ninety percent of humanity is exposed to polluted air. The result is an estimated seven million premature deaths every year, making air pollution one of the main avoidable causes of death and disease globally.