How COVID-19 lockdowns and car-free days affected air pollution in Rwanda’s capital

2021-08-12

Rising levels of vehicle traffic, industrial activity and urban sprawl are contributing to rising levels of air pollution across the global South. This is particularly the case in cities where urbanisation is progressing fastest.

In Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, the population has surged from less than 500,000 in 2000 to more than 1 million today. It is set to increase to nearly 2 million by 2030. At the same time, vehicle numbers in the city have increased from just 55,000 in 1999 to more than 200,000 in 2019.

Air pollution is the fourth highest risk factor for premature mortality worldwide. And there is growing recognition that even at relatively low levels air pollution can cause significant health impacts, such as heart attacks and strokes.

Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) – such as dust, dirt, soot, or smoke – is 70 times smaller than a human hair and is one of the most significant contributors to urban air pollution. In Kigali, the amount of PM2.5 in the air is approximately double the level deemed permissible by the World Health Organisation. This emphasises the need for action and the scale of the potential benefit to be achieved. A challenge, however, lies in a lack of analysis on the sources of air pollution and the opportunities for action.

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~sThe Conversation, 12 August 2021

https://theconversation.com/how-covid-19-lockdowns-and-car-free-days-affected-air-pollution-in-rwandas-capital-165675