24 June 2012

Ethiopia: Addis to Monitor Air Pollution for 5 Million Br

The Ethiopian Meteorological Agency (EMA) is planning to establish an air pollution monitoring station to measure the air quality of Addis Abeba at a cost of five million Br.

The station, which is to be constructed at the EMA's compound next to Black Lion Hospital, is expected to provide data that will help forecasters establish trends in the city's pollution. The data will also serve as a vital input for policymakers and stakeholders who work on air pollution and related issues.

"There have been individual sporadic samplings done by different experts, which have served as the pollution data, up until now, but this will be an international standard station that can feed data directly to the concerned authorities," according to Tesfaye Gissla, Meteorological Research & Studies Directorate director at the EMA.

The station will have four sensors measuring carbon oxides, nitrogen oxides, tropospheric ozone, and particulate matter. The first two are primary pollutants from vehicles and industry.

Tropospheric ozone is naturally created when nitrogen oxide, emitted into the environment, is broken down by ultra violet rays and mixes with oxygen in the air.

The EMA decided not to install a fifth kind of sensor to measure the content of sulphur oxide. The Agency's decision was based on the fact that sulphur is a product of high-level mining, and the country does not have such industry yet, according to Tesfaye.

The establishment of such a station can also indirectly help to monitor the reduction of carbon emissions, an environment expert believes. The data collected from the monitoring station about carbon emissions will help strengthen carbon trading, Dereje Bekele, environmental pollution study and research officer at the Addis Abeba Environment Development Office, told Fortune.

The Ethiopian government intends to raise finances from carbon trading to gain about 150 billion dollars in two decades. The government currently has one project in Humbo Wereda, Wolaita Zone, Southern Nations Regional State, to recover about 2,728 hectares of land with natural forests.

Established in December 1980, the EMA currently has around 1,200 conventional stations, 37 automatic stations, an upper air observatory in Addis Abeba, and automatic weather observing stations at different airports of the country. The Agency also receives satellite images every fifteen minutes, according to the Agency's official website.

The EMA chose to build a new air quality and pollution monitoring station near Black Lion Hospital, considering the location's proximity to the city's biggest market, Mercato; industrial centres; and a lot of traffic flow, said Hailu Wudineh, Public Relations & Communications Directorate director at the Agency.

The setup of the monitoring station is expected to be commenced in the coming fiscal year. The federal government has already earmarked 4.6 million Br in its 2012/13 budget for the establishment of the station. In its previous failed attempt to set up a station, the Agency found that at least five million br was needed to get a monitoring facility.

The EMA had, then, floated a tender and failed to find bidders that offered less than five million for the establishment of such a station. The offers from the bidders were far from the 1.7 million Br that the federal government had allocated for the station in its 2011/12 budget.

The agency is expecting to float a tender in the next fiscal year. The bid will be for the supply and installation of equipment and for the training of professionals from the Agency to operate the instruments. The EMA also plans to fix the 400,000 Br deficit through budget reshuffling and obtaining grants and other assistance.

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