Kampala city and other urban environments in Uganda have no regular monitoring of environmental exposures leading to a scarcity of air quality data, both in quantity and quality. This leaves urban communities uninformed about their exposure and as a result, there is limited public awareness of the impact of pollution on health . Urban dwellers in informal settlements are most affected by environmental health risks because they have limited options for housing, energy sources and tend to be concentrated nearby industries to access employment opportunities. Without data and evidence, it is not possible for them to engage and demand for action from city duty bearers. Similarly, Kampala city duty bearers, private sector and the government lack accurate information on the environmental exposures to act. Traditional urban sensing systems tend to be expensive, complex to setup and unsuitable for the African urban contexts.
The AirQo system provides timely and hyperlocal access to air quality information for urban dwellers and duty beaters in Kampala city allowing them to take actions that lead to improvement of air quality in their communities. The AirQo digital air quality platform leverages locally built low cost technologies and artificial intelligence approaches, to close the gaps in air quality information access and allow for active citizen engagement in air urban environmental issues.
The project builds upon AirQo’s existing air quality monitoring system for Uganda. 80 locally designed and built sensors are already deployed on motorcycle taxis and static locations in Kampala and other urban towns in Uganda collecting near-real time air pollution data. This network of sensors will be increased to 150 devices, including a coverage extension to Jinja and Fort Portal cities in addition to Kampala.
Each device is connected to the AirQo digital air quality platform and streams real-time air quality data into the platform for storage, further analysis and presentation. The project will develop a customised, easy access, multi-level digital air quality toolkit including app, website and dashboard. City authorities and policy makers will be provided with access to the platform to get a city overview of the air quality trends by division and community, allowing them to take decisions and implement actions to improve air quality specific to city divisions. Eventually, awareness campaigns about air pollution will be carried out at community level to sensitize vulnerable groups, and trainings will be conducted for education and health professionals.
- Citizens having increased access to timely air quality information for informed decision making to reduce their air pollution exposure and take actions to improve air quality.
- Duty bearers have increased capacity and access to evidence to take informed decisions to achieve cleaner air in Ugandan cities.
- Increased understanding of air pollution and its effects among vulnerable communities, urban dwellers, teachers, parents and local authorities.