The Coronavirus lockdown has seen the quality of air in the central business district, Kampala improve, a survey by AirQo an air quality research initiative based in the College of Computing and Information Sciences, Makerere University.
On March 30, the president announced a 14-day lockdown in which he banned both private and public transport means.
However, a survey carried out by AirQo monitored the quality of air and found out that it had greatly improved.
“The hourly air pollution means for the two weeks prior to the lockdown remained substantially above the hourly means recorded during the lockdown period but with some interesting variations according to location,” the report reads in part.
“Nsambya and to a lesser extent Bweyogerere and Bugolobi, for example, shows the morning rush hour between 6am and 9am as a high peak time before lockdown while after the restrictions the peak is almost unidentifiable. On average this represents a reduction in air pollution of around 60% during the morning rush hour.”
The report also indicated that there was a drastic drop in the daily pollution levels starting March 19 after the ban on public gatherings as a measure to combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
The report indicates that the high pollution levels are caused by the high levels of traffic congestion across the city but also the big numbers of people that gather in Kampala.
“The public transport network is not as efficient as it should be and largely filled by ageing taxis and boda boda which clog the streets along with a wide range of private and commercial vehicles,” the report says.
The survey based on seven monitoring centres in Bweyogerere, Seguku, Nsambya near the US Embassy, Kiwafu, Bugoloobi and the city centre.
“We found that formal settlement areas also known as slums are vulnerable in terms of exposure to pollution due to fuels they use which is biomass and housing infrastructure which limits pollution dilution,” said Deo Okure, an expert from AirQo.
According to Prof. Engineer Bainomugisha who is leading the project, there is need for transport reforms to help improve the air quality in the city.
“There is need to replace taxi with business to reduce on pollution. One bus can replace at least four taxis and this has a big impact on the number of vehicles on our roads. There is need to introduce more non-motorised transport systems,”Bainomugisha said.
He said there is need to increased access to clean energy to reduce on biomass that leads to pollution.
He said all these will help improve the quality of air in the city.
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.