United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) estimates that over 45,000 African children under the age of 5 die annually due to air pollution, one of the highest regional child mortality rates in the world.The agency announced its assessment on Thursday while it launched an initiative to strengthen air quality management in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
Estimates of the economic cost to Africa of indoor and outdoor air pollution also approach $250 billion US dollars annually.
The initiative aims to raise awareness about the health and economic impacts of air pollution, assess the challenges facing air quality in Addis Ababa, and support local capacity to develop and implement an air quality management plan (AQMP) by 2020.
A study at the launching ceremony was cited by the State Minister, who said “97 percent of cities in low and middle income countries with more than 100,000 inhabitants do not meet the World Health Organization air quality guidelines.”
At the launch ceremony U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Troy Fitrell framed the importance of the project, saying “Clean air is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. Quite literally, we can’t live without it.”
In Ethiopia, the Global Burden of Disease estimates that air pollution is the number 2 risk factor for death and number 3 risk factor for disability.
Addis Ababa is moderately polluted and that is a major environmental risk which could affect sensitive people, Environment State Minister Negusu Lemma disclosed.
According to the minister, old cars with high gas emission rate, and gas from solid wastes released especially by construction firms and industries are mainly aggravating pollution in the city.
The US Environmental Protection Agency Air Quality Management Plan that will be delivered in early 2019 helps to identify major air pollution sources, the general status of the city and its health and economic impacts.
“The US believes that an investment in improving Ethiopia’s air quality is an investment worth making because clean air is not leisure, it is a necessity we cannot live without,” Fitrell declared.