The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), in collaboration with Ghana's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has launched the BreatheLife Accra Project and the Air Quality Management Plan (AQMP) to address health challenges associated with pollution in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA).
The BreatheLife Accra Project, a World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations (UN) environment-led initiative, aims to reduce air pollution for good health and climate benefits.
The project, to be piloted in four communities in two sub-metropolitan areas--Jamestown and Agbogbloshie in Ashiedu Keteke, and Mamprobi and Chorkor in Ablekumah South-- would involve community durbars, house-to-house sensitization on burning of waste, promotion of green space development and the improved awareness creation and training on the importance of switching to clean cooking stoves
Mr Mohammed Nii Adjei Sowah, Chief Executive Officer of AMA, who launched the campaign in Accra, yesterday, August 16, 2018, said the breathelife campaign was in sync with aspirations to improve the quality of life of city dwellers which would target some of the worst affected areas of poverty, pollution and increasing incidence of non-communicable diseases.
On AQMP, Mr Sowah said the introduction of the plan was to guide and provide a framework for everyone in targeting actions to improve air quality in Accra.
He explained that an assessment conducted to appreciate the primary source of pollution revealed that waste, transportation, household energy sources and industrial pollution were the main sources of emissions in Accra, which required the development and implementation of well-co-ordinated plans in order to sustain Accra's development.
He said the areas identified for the pilots for the three pillars of the program were artificial parks in schools and communities, a focus on waste through waste segregation piloting in communities and schools, and the health professionals' sensitization in Jamestown, Agbogloshie, Mamprobi and Chokor.
Mr Sowah disclosed that as part of measures his administration had taken to address the challenges identified, the AMA would launch a major greening and open space development project in the metropolis in the next couple of weeks.
He listed a number of measures taken by the AMA on waste management, namely a pilot programme in waste segregation in basic schools in the Osu Klottey sub-metro; introduction of further waste segregation in all government second cycle institutions within the AMA; major decongestion within the central business district which led to the reduction in waste generation by 30%; improved traffic movement by close to 25%; and a waste management rapid response program which provided an avenue for citizens to report areas and spots of illegal waste dumping for rapid evacuation.
Dr John Pwamang, Acting Director of EPA, who presented the Air Quality Management Plan for GAMA, indicated that for the EPA to achieve its key functions of prescribing standards and guidelines relating to all forms of environmental pollution, including the discharge of waste and the control of toxic substances into the environment, there was the need to conduct a study on air quality and vehicular emissions to monitor programs in various parts of the country.
Dr Pwamang said that study was undertaken with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), WHO, Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), UN Environment and the World Bank, among others.
He disclosed that the AQMP was developed in collaboration with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) in order to take advantage of USEPA's significant and broad experience in air quality management.
Currently, he said, EPA Ghana had 15 functional air quality monitoring stations and 10 low cost air sensors located in Accra.
The monitoring stations, he said, were located along 10 major road routes, 2 residential areas and a commercial area of Accra.
Dr Pwamang said air quality data from EPA Ghana showed elevated levels of Particulate Matter (PM) that exceeded WHO health guidelines in residential, commercial and industrial areas of the GAMA.
"Ghana's first AQMP focuses on GAMA because of current conditions as characterized by roughly 10 years of PM monitor readings, present an unacceptable health burden for the pollution of Accra and are not in line with international standards for air quality. Also the health burden of high PM concentrations estimated 400 deaths per year in 2014 has clear economic implications for GAMA that presents a direct social and economic cost for respiratory health treatments. Without action, economic growth could lead to higher emissions in the vehicle and industrial sectors which would worsen air quality over time," he stressed.
Source: Public Relations Unit, AMA