Nairobi County on Thursday marked the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies, aimed at combating air pollution and promoting a healthier environment. While addressing climate change stakeholders, Nairobi Governor Johnson Sakaja noted that in the past few years, there has been a sharp rise in pollutants and a decline in air quality, resulting in a high mortality rate, especially among children. 'Every single child who misses a day of school, who has a chronic dry cough, or who has had to go to the hospital because he or she has breathed in diesel smoke should matter deeply to us as it does to our families,' Sakaja said. Further, he emphasised that they must get tough about pollution because it is real, does not discriminate, and does not know class. Most importantly, Sakaja noted the World Health Organisation (WHO) report, which showed that 99 per cent of the world's population breathes air that does not meet minimum standards. 'It is a silent tragedy. We know that our cities definitely bear the brunt of that burden, particularly here in Africa,' he remarked. He said that in many other parts of the world, there are strict rules on emissions in cities due to the use of vehicles, but Nairobi does not have such rules. However, he revealed that several times, Kenya uses economic circumstances as an excuse to regulate emissions of pollution, and to improve on this, his administration is constantly monitoring Nairobi's air quality. While recognising continued support and partnerships by other climate change activists, including the Clean Air Fund, USAID, the World Resource Institute, and the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, Sakaja called upon them to roll out a system of countywide air quality monitors. 'We need direct, high-quality information to enforce the pollution rules,' said the governor. He promised that his administration would act on the information collected to ensure a pollution-friendly regulatory framework as well as have a new pollution bill that would be sent to the County Assembly for approval to fund the idea. Equally, in a commitment to increase air quality monitoring infrastructure, the county government seeks to add 17 more local centres and a reference station as a step towards improving and mainstreaming air quality and climate change actions. Praising Nairobi as the world's environmental capital and Africa's capital that has to set an example to the rest, Sakaja vowed, 'We must lead from the front as Nairobi. We must be the first zero-carbon city by 2050. That is a commitment we have made, and we don't just say it; we have to make the milestones towards being the first-led zero city'. In an effort to reduce emissions, the governor said the county government would support e-mobility services such as charging infrastructure while incentivizing those who would engage in electric bicycle, motorcycle, and bus operations. In plans to decongest the city, Sakaja said his administration was working on establishing a five-burrow system to decentralise services offered at the county offices while at the same time digitalizing county revenue streams in all respects. 'And every service that you require here at City Hall will be found within the five burrow headquarters,' he said.
Source: Kenya News Agency