Rwanda has joined the rest of the world to celebrate World Environment Day, the event that brought together government and non-state actors to discuss on strategies to fight air pollution, a leading environmental threat to human health.
The day which was celebrated under the theme “Beat Air Pollution”, has also been an occasion to launch the Third National Communication on Climate Change Report and awarding of environmental champions who are working to address pollution. The awarded include districts, small and medium enterprises in the private sector, higher learning institutions, TVET schools, media and community that conducted football competitions.
Speaking at the occasion, the Director General of Rwanda Environment Management Authority (REMA) Eng. Coletha U. Ruhamya said that we all need to contribute to fighting Air Pollution. “Adopting clean alternative sources of energy for cooking, ensuring regular service of vehicles and avoiding open burnings, and planting trees to purify the air are among some of the advised measures to fight air pollution” added the director general.
Talking about the health threat of air pollution on health, Dr. Innocent Turate from the Ministry of Health, said that air pollution leads to premature deaths for millions of people dying from respiratory and other diseases including stroke, heart diseases that affect vulnerable people mostly women and children” which calls for collective effort to reduce the pollution of air that we breathe.
The permanent secretary at the Ministry of Environment, Ms. Mukarubibi Fatina said that it is everyone's responsibility to take actions that contribute to improving the quality of air. By reducing air pollution, we will also be reducing the burden of diseases of stroke, heart diseases, lung cancer and both chronical and acute respiratory diseases.
Today, more than 90% of people globally breathe polluted air and approximately seven million people die from air pollution-related causes every year. Air pollution costs the global economy of US $5 trillion in welfare costs annually and ground-level ozone pollution is expected to reduce staple crop yields by 26 per cent by 2030.