Environment Principal Secretary Mr. Charles Sunkuli has called upon research institutions to share their findings with the public in order to facilitate informed decisions.
The PS noted that crucial scientific information regarding air quality in Kenya had been recorded but little action was being taken on it because the public had not been fully sensitized about it.
Mr. Sunkuli added that researchers had a moral obligation to disseminate scientific information and also engage the government in an effort to stem the runaway deaths caused by poor air quality.
He said research had confirmed air pollution was a serious problem that had caused respiratory disease causing 40 % of deaths globally with pneumonia killing 14,300 people annually. “Had people been aware of the dangers posed by the pollution, they would have taken precautionary measures” he added.
Mr. Sunkuli was speaking when he opened the annual Kenya Air Quality Conference at the International Centre for Research on Agro Forestry (ICRAF) headquarters at Gigiri, Nairobi.
The government was aspiring to create a healthy environment for its citizens as envisaged in the sustainable development goals and had already taken the lead in building capacity for its regulatory Institutions he noted.
The PS said the government would strengthen the regulatory institutions; National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) and Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) through additional funding and training to enable them take appropriate measures on the serious polluters in the country.
He said the cabinet had already taken a decision to empower NEMA to take action on polluters including imposing hefty fines. This he noted would have far reaching effects on the country’s environment.
Mr. Sunkuli emphasized on the collaboration between the National Government and the County Governments through improving the regulatory framework to improve air quality in the country which was a devolved function as provided by the country’s constitution.
Dr. Andrianna Mbandi a researcher at Stockholm Environment Institute told the conference that studies done through urban air quality in Africa program indicated that public transport in Nairobi was one of the highest causes of pollution owing to the exponential growth of motorbikes and private vehicles in the last 10 years.
The study recommended that governments develop a central database for air pollution research alongside establishing more air pollution monitoring stations.