Rwanda has organized week-long activities that precede the celebration of World Environment Day which is set on 5th June 2019.
This Year’s World Environment Day will be celebrated under the theme on “Air Pollution”, as it has been chosen by UN Environment.
Speaking at the Press Conference which was organized as part of the planned activities to raise awareness on Environment Day, the Director General of Rwanda Environment Management Authority Eng. Coletha U. Ruhamya said “World Environment Day has been, and is still a good opportunity to build upon the success made in environmental Management towards green growth and Climate Change resilience in Rwanda.”
She explained that the 2019 World Environment Day in Rwanda will be marked by a series of Events which are linked to the fight against Air polluting activities.
Among planned activities, Ruhamya names launching the National Environment Week during the monthly community Work (Umuganda) of May 2019, Awareness raising on Air pollution through mass sport, emphasizing the role of Forests to curb Air pollution, Inspection on plastic pollution, Solar power installation for the reduction of indoor pollution, Motor Vehicle inspection, seminar, study tour, competition and awards ceremony among other planned activities across the country.
The Eastern and Central African Country which has strict laws on Environment protection said as part from curbing Air pollution there are key intervention put in place so far to respond to the Environment hazardous due to Air pollution.
Speaking to media on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, Rwanda’s Minister of Environment Dr. Vincent Biruta said “Rwanda has put in place law which provides guidelines and punishments to those who contribute to the pollution of Air as well as the Environment.”
Dr. Biruta said that the country has banned plastic materials which played a role in the Environment degradation, and currently there are studies to ban other plastic materials such as plastic bottles, among others.
“In Rwanda we want to move to another level where we are going to ban other plastic materials and promotes other alternatives” Dr. Biruta said.
“However we will continue to do research to find out new materials that can be used better to replace those banned plastics.” He explained.
“We are very happy that our neighboring countries have also started to ban plastic use”Dr. Biruta added
Among other planned interventions also Dr. Biruta revealed that Rwanda is discussing with the German automaker Volkswagen to see if it can produce electric cars for Rwanda.
Biruta said “All of these initiatives are being worked on in close collaboration with FONERWA which is Rwanda’s Green Fund, a groundbreaking environment and climate change fund.
The country also is encouraging citizens to use cooking gas rather than relying on charcoal and fire woods.
“The other important initiative, the Government has started to sensitize people on public transport use in order to reduce the air polluting substances emitted by the great number of cars.
“For instance, on car free Day we have found that the level of Air pollution goes down when there are less cars in the city.” He said.
Air pollution causes Alarming effects
Statistics showed that Air pollution costs the global Economy $ 5 trillion every year in welfare costs while 92% of people worldwide do not breathe clean air.
The Air pollution in Rwanda is also affecting Rwandans.
A joint concept note released by REMA and the Ministry of Environment said “While we are still trying to understand the full extent of the problem, we do know that in 2012, more than 2000 deaths were attributed to ambient Air pollution.”
The note added that “Between 2012 and 2015, the number of hospital admissions for acute respiratory infections in health centres across the country increased by almost double to more than 3.3 million.”
However the country recognizes that the Air pollution is not only an environmental challenge, but also a risk to the country’s development.
Dr. Biruta emphasized that Rwanda will keep sensitization campaigns while searching for the sustainable solution towards healthy Environment.