Chief executives of 15 municipal assemblies in Accra have pledged to work with the Clean Air Fund to improve air quality in their respective areas.
The assemblies include the Accra Metropolitan Assembly with its three sub-metros (Ashiedu Keteke, Okaikwei South, and Ablekuma South); Ablekuma West Municipal Assembly, La-Nkwantanang, Madina/Adenta, La-Dadekotopon, Ga South, Ga Central and Korle-Klotey municipal assemblies.
Mr George Cyril Bray, the Ablekuma West Municipal Chief Executive and Dean of the Greater Accra Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives, made the commitment on behalf of his colleagues at a meeting in Accra.
The meeting, organised by the Clean Air Fund, was on the theme: “Dialogue on Partnership for improving Air Quality in Accra: Leveraging Data for Air Pollution Control Decisions.”
It was attended by municipal chief executives, representatives of health institutions, non-governmental organisations, and academia.
The Clean Air Fund is a philanthropic global initiative working with governments and businesses to deliver clean air for all.
Mr Desmond Appiah, the Country Lead of the Fund, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said the Fund has launched a project where sensors would be placed in communities within the selected municipalities to collect data on the state of air quality.
A research by the World Bank indicated that 28,000 people died annually in Ghana from diseases like strokes, diabetes, and respiratory tract infections as a result of air pollution, out of which Accra alone recorded 18,000 deaths.
“There is also economic implications to poor air quality and is causing the economy of Ghana 2.5 billion dollars a year according to the World Bank,” Mr Appiah said.
“And so tackling air pollution is necessary and important for the country.”
He mentioned key sources of air pollution in Accra as transportation, open waste burning, and household energy such as burning of fire wood, charcoal for cooking as well as industrial pollution.
Mr Appiah said the Clean Air Fund has been supporting many African countries and presently in Ghana to help address the air pollution challenges.
“We are starting with data collection, which will also include the training of assemblies members, especially planning and environmental health officers, to understand and analyse the data collected,” he said.
This would help in enforcing the bye-laws of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Act, which has the bearing on air pollution.
The Fund has observed that these officers are biased towards enforcing sanitation bye-laws to the neglect of air pollution, which is an integral part of the environmental hazards that needs to be resolved.
A grant of about 500,000 dollars had been voted to begin the project, to be increased over the years as they identified research, solutions and actions to help reduce air pollution at both the national and local levels, Mr Appiah said.
Accra already has an Air Quality Management Plan, which was developed by the EPA with support from the US Environmental Protection Agency.
“There are actions outlined in there that we can also use to get the solutions we need.”
Mr Emmanuel E.K. Appoh, the Acting Director, Environmental Quality Department, EPA, said Ghana had been engaging actively at the international, national, and regional levels in many air pollution prevention and control initiatives aimed at promoting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“Pollution prevention and control has been at the heart of Ghana’s developmental efforts, and these have been mainstreamed into the National Environmental Policy and several sectoral policies as well as the development of strong legal and institutional frameworks to support national goals,” he said.
He called for a strong local and international support and stakeholder commitment towards achieving air pollution-free planet that builds on the opportunities and successes of existing works and agreements such as the SDGs.