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Articles For Change By YEWGlobal: Air Quality In Accra

Welcome to another edition of Articles for Change by YEWGlobal.

This week, we bring to light a heavy burden borne in our sacred space; an invisible foe, yet felt in every breath. While some urban areas are taking innovative steps to clean their air, Accra is devoted to consistently appear on lists of African cities with high levels of air pollution. For a country that prides itself on being the gateway to Africa and a model of democracy, it is disheartening to learn that people living in its cities are subjected to terrible air quality.


Air Quality In Accra


Ghana's capital city, Accra, is a thriving commercial, cultural, and tourist destination in West Africa. Despite its busy streetsand vibrant energy, Accra is fraught with a major environmental challenge: air pollution. Accra's air quality is an urgent matter, affecting the health and well-being of its citizens, the sustainability of its economy, and the city's appeal as a place to live and work. While the source of air pollution varies – some come from vehicle emissions, some from power plants, some from crop burning, and domestic fuel combustion – the outcome is the same: airborne contaminants are a dire threat to human health. Furthermore, dust from unpaved roads and construction sites aggravates the situation, particularly during dry seasons.

According to the World Health Organisation an estimated 40% of Accra’s PM2.5 air pollution concentrations are attributable to road transport. Other causes of PM2.5 pollution in Accra include biomass fuels, industrial and power plant emissions, and soil dust as of 2021.

World Health Organisation

The concentration of these pollutants claim dozens of lives by causing premature deaths due to conditions such as stroke, heart disease, and lung cancer. Children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing medical issues are especially endangered. Many air pollutants, including carbon dioxide, are powerful greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Limited regulatory enforcement and monitoring worsen the issue. While Ghana has environmental legislation in place, enforcement is sometimes inadequate, allowing enterprises and vehicles to violate emissions norms without consequence. Furthermore, a lack of extensive air quality monitoring infrastructure impedes proper data collection and analysis, making it difficult to identify the entire scope of the problem and conduct targeted remedies.

Air Pollution

Addressing air pollution in Accra is not a lone venture for the government and its officials; itinvolves a multifaceted strategy that includes community participation, and most importantly, individual action. In practice, incorporating urban gardens which create lusher greenery in cities, is one strategy to combat air pollution. Plants in these gardens absorb pollutants from the air and emit oxygen, which helps to improve air quality. Urban gardens can also help in dealing with extreme heat, a phenomenon that has become increasingly frequent with climate change. In addition, government authorities must strictly enforce current environmental restrictions and impose tighter emissions requirements for industries and vehicles.

This involves conducting frequent inspections, enforcing fines for noncompliance, and encouraging the use of cleaner technology. Legal limits on the number and types of cars permitted in the city centre can considerably reduce carbon emissions in the area. Implementing sustainable waste management methods, such as recycling, composting, and landfill management, eliminates the need for open burning and lowers air pollution from garbage disposal. Similarly, promoting the use of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power in companies reduces dependency on fossil fuels and hence emissions.

Green Ecosystem

Lastly, educating the public about the health impacts of air pollution and empowering communities to advocate for cleaner air fosters a culture of environmental stewardship. Encouraging individuals to adopt sustainable practices, such as using clean cooking technology including liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and solar-powered stoves, and tree planting, enhances collective efforts to combat pollution. We can all help remove this shroud that veils our cities’ grace. Let us clear the skies and help our future world breathe healthier air, else posterity will not forgive us for the toxins we left to lurk into their sleep and seep into their lungs.


Thank you for reading another edition of Articles For Change by YEWGlobal.

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