Dr Kalisa Egide, a professor at the University of Rwanda, Department of Science and Technology (CST), has begun research on the effects of air pollution on kindergarten and elementary school children in Rwanda
Around the world, children in the human category are most at risk from the effects of air pollution.
A 2012 study by the Ministry of Health found that children under the age of five died at the time, accounting for about 22% of all respiratory illnesses.
To reduce the impact of air pollution, Rwanda became the first African country to submit to the United Nations air pollution targets, where it is committed to reducing pollution by 38% by 2030.
Some of the key strategies in this direction include improving energy efficiency, efficient industrial use, waste management, transportation and agriculture and all those intervention areas will reduce air pollution by 4.6 million tons.
Rwanda has also reduced the import of old cars, started the use of electric vehicles and set a car free day as part of initiatives to reduce global warming
Dr Kalisa told IGIHE that in the face of air pollution, some schools, especially those in urban areas, are not taking adequate measures to protect children.
This is largely due to the fact that these centers are close to high-traffic roads, school buses are too old to emit large amounts of air pollutants where they spend a long time standing or pulling them out while their engines are emitting high amount of smokes.
In an effort to find a solution, Dr Kalisa has launched a study to look at the effects of air pollutants and how they can be prevented.
“I started my research at Kigali Parents School where I trained children, showing them how to measure air pollution and how to develop a culture of fighting air pollution,” he said.
The school was selected because it has an environmental team and is close to the multi-lane road and many of the children in it are driven by car.
“I worked with the kids, giving them measuring instruments to see how the measurements change as the parents came and took them in the car. “It simply came to our notice then that we were trying to protect our children.”
Dr Kalisa will continue to conduct research in other institutions in different provinces of the country.
Children go to school in African cities spend at least eight hours in school.
Most of the places where they come in contact with air pollution are at school, while studying, on vacation and in sports due to the fact that their centers are close to highways.
A study in the UK found that reducing air pollution by 20% could improve the brain’s performance by 6.1%.
– Strategies to combat air pollution in schools
Air pollution affects children’s health because research shows that they are more susceptible to lung diseases, asthma and can even reduce their achievement in school.
Dr Kalisa says there are steps that need to be taken to address this issue and involve everyone.
“School principals should take into account where students enter, where they play, and away from motorways or parks; planting trees around the school, Avoid the form of noise and vehicle emissions by making sure that schools are far from the noise and vehicle emissions; turn off all vehicles when they arrive at school; mobilizing children to walk while they live near the school; the use of public transport for student transportation instead of private use; set the standard for each school and determine the quality of the atmosphere. ”
The researcher called on the government to intensify its use of electric vehicles, to build and use pedestrian and bicycle lanes and to warn parents of the dangers of air pollution and how to prevent it.
Dr Kalisa Egide’s research is on the subject of the next phase of the PHD at the University of Toronto in Canada.
Dr Kalisa also conducted a study on the condition of the air during Car Free Day in Rwanda. He pointed out that air pollutants have decreased during the Guma mu Rugo (COVID 19 LOCKDOWN) mainly because of less travel, with fewer vehicles operating.
Dr Kalisa and his colleagues have recently shown that while electric motors will be 100% efficient in Kigali, Carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced by 70 kilotons, reducing emissions and air pollution.430