A recently-released study found that air pollution in African cities is rapidly growing, according to Africa News. Results from the study also show that pollution is more deadly than previously realized.

What we know

The study was published by British NGO, Clean Air Fund.

“Air pollution (in African cities) is high and rising, it’s rising quite rapidly. It’s a silent killer,” said the Ghanaian director of the Clean Air Fund director, Desmond Appiah.

Africa has a population that is largely rural. However, recently more and more people have been relocating from these rural areas to cities. According to the study, pollution in African cities is a problem that has long been neglected.

Airborne hazard

In a previous study, Lancet Planetary Health found that polluted air conditions, in particular from industry, transportation, and wood-burning stoves, caused 1.1 million people to die prematurely in 2019.

The Health Effects Institute (HEI), said Africa has one of the world’s highest rates of people dying from the effects of air pollution.

In sub-Saharan Africa alone 155 people per every 100,000 die from air pollution. This number is nearly double the global average of 85.6 deaths per 100,000 people.

Pollution in the major cities

The study examined air pollution in four of Africa’s rapidly growing major cities: Accra, Cairo, Johannesburg, and Lagos. It looked at the health, environmental and economic costs of pollution in these cities.

It compared the projected results between a future where nothing is done to address the pollution problem and a greener scenario in which cities take measures to improve air quality. Some of the proposed measures include utilizing cleaner cookers and upgrading public transportation.

The study shows that by embracing a more sustainable approach, emissions could be reduced by around 20% by 2040. This could save an estimated 125,000 lives as well as $20 billion in costs.

How can it be fixed?

Without instituting some type of measures, costs will increase sixfold and more people will die prematurely.

“Africa’s economic growth will be driven by rapidly expanding cities. More than 65% of the continent’s population is expected to live in urban areas by 2060,” said the Clean Air Fund.

“By the end of the century, Africa will have five of the world’s 10 largest megacities. The big question now is how fast, how fair, and how sustainable this growth will be.”

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