Makerere University has launched a research initiative that will help address the challenges of air pollution around the country.
Named AirQo, the initiative is focused on collecting, analysing and forecasting air quality data in Uganda, and most importantly working with other stakeholders to inform mitigation actions and it is the first local air quality monitoring research initiative in Uganda and by far the biggest in
Speaking at the launch at Sheraton Hotel Prof. Engineer Bainomugisha who is leading the project said it will go a long way in helping address the issue of pollution that the country is grappling with.
“This innovation is an important aspect because it is a big step in quantifying the magnitude of air pollution in our country. The data we collect will help us know the hotspots patterns,”Bainomugisha said.
“We will be able to know which actions to take to mitigate the problem using this innovation.”
In 2018, it was reported that Kampala’s air quality index was six times (162g/m3) higher than the World Health Organisation(WHO) air quality guidelines(25g/m3) which meant that by that time, cities including China(48g/m3), Zurich(21g/m3) and Los Angeles(25g/m3) which are heavily industrialized were cleaner than Kampala.
However, according to Bainomugisha, the innovation will help tackle the problem that Kampala is facing by quantifying the amount pollution in the city.
“We can be able to see the hot spots for air pollution but how to reduce it. Currently the biggest contributors are emissions from vehicles, dust from unpaved roads and burning of rubbish among others. If we can avoid these, we can reduce pollution.”
The AirQo project fills in this gap by creating low-cost air pollution monitoring devices designed to work in the unique contexts of African cities.”
The Minister for Information, ICT and National Guidance Judith Nabakooba said government will always be willing to fund such innovations.
“I am happy for this innovation and I wish to reiterate the government’s commitment to research and innovation. We at the Ministry are always eager to work with all partners in locally developing ICT solutions for solving local problems. Once again I thank the team for a job well done and wish you success in your future endeavors,”Nabakooba said.
About the project
AirQo is an air quality research initiative based in the College of Computing and Information Sciences, Makerere University.
The objective of the project is to contribute to the improvement of urban air quality by developing low-cost sensing technology to measure air quality and applying artificial intelligence (AI) to derive insights to inform mitigation actions.
As part of the project, over 65 monitors have been put in various points around the country to monitor air quality and data is relayed to a central point.
AirQo also has a mobile app that readily informs the general public about the quality of air they breath.