Air pollution is a growing concern in Kenya, with its impact being felt across various sectors, including health, the environment, and the economy. Industrial and transportation emissions are the primary sources of air pollution in Kenya, and they have been increasing over the years, contributing to the country's deteriorating air quality.
Transportation is clearly one of the leading sources of air pollution in Kenya. The country's transportation sector mainly relies on old, inefficient, and poorly maintained vehicles that emit high levels of pollutants into the atmosphere. The transport sector accounts for approximately 25% of the country's carbon dioxide emissions, which is the primary greenhouse gas responsible for climate change.
According to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the transport sector in Nairobi alone contributes to about 60% of the city's air pollution. The study indicates that the high concentration of air pollutants, especially particulate matter, is due to the high number of vehicles on the roads, poor road conditions, and a lack of proper vehicle maintenance.
In addition to transportation, industrial emissions also contribute significantly to air pollution in Kenya. Industrial activities such as manufacturing, mining, and energy production generate a significant amount of air pollutants, including particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides. These pollutants are emitted from industrial facilities such as factories, power plants, and refineries.
A report by the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources indicates that the industrial sector contributes approximately 20% of the country's air pollution. The study reveals that the emissions from industries in Nairobi, Mombasa, and Kisumu contribute to over 90% of the cities' air pollution. The report further states that the primary sources of industrial emissions in Kenya are energy generation, transportation, and manufacturing processes.
The impact of air pollution on the environment and human health is significant. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution is responsible for approximately seven million deaths globally each year. In Kenya, air pollution contributes to respiratory illnesses, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. A study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation indicates that air pollution in Kenya is responsible for over 21,000 premature deaths annually.
Air pollution also has an economic impact, with its effects being felt across various sectors. For instance, the tourism sector, which is a significant contributor to Kenya's economy, is affected by the country's poor air quality. Air pollution makes the environment less attractive to tourists, leading to a decline in the number of visitors to the country. Additionally, air pollution leads to increased healthcare costs, lost productivity, and decreased agricultural yields.
The impact of air pollution on human health, the environment, and the economy is significant, making it imperative for the government, private sector, and citizens to take urgent measures to curb emissions and improve air quality. Such measures could include the adoption of clean energy solutions, proper vehicle maintenance, and the implementation of policies aimed at reducing emissions from industries and transportation.
Story compiled by Nyokabi Wanjiku