Diseases and death by ambient air pollution cause recurring losses in economic production— between 0.08 and 0.3 per cent of gross domestic product— in Ethiopia, Ghana, and Rwanda, UN Environment Programme finds.
Economic losses as a result of air-pollution-related disease was, US$1.6 billion in Ghana representing 0.95 per cent of GDP. In Ethiopia, the loss was US$3.0 billion (1.16 per cent of GDP), and US$349 million in Rwanda (1.19 per cent of GDP).
“Ambient pollution caused by fossil fuels has clear economic downsides. In Ethiopia, Ghana and Rwanda, disease and death caused by ambient air pollution result in substantial annually recurring losses in economic production…”UNEP report
In all of Africa, air pollution was responsible for 1.1 million deaths in 2019. Household air pollution (HAP) accounted for 697,000 deaths and ambient air pollution (AAP) accounted for 394,000 deaths.
Meanwhile, the report shows that household air pollution is declining across Africa as families move away from using solid fuels such as wood, straw, and animal dung towards cleaner fuels like LPG.
Contrastingly, levels of ambient air pollution are also beginning to rise, the report indicates. This increase occurs as countries develop economically, industrialize, and become linked to global value chains.
Moreover, the sources of ambient air pollution include electricity generation in fossil fuels— coal and oil fired power plants, industrial emissions, transportation related emissions, and crop burning.
The report notes that, although these increases are evident, they are however, modest. Essentially, this trend represents similar pattern from other countries. As such, these “increases are likely the leading edge of a looming problem.”
Ambient air pollution negatively affects IQ of children
Furthermore, ambient air pollution in Africa is lower than in many parts of the world; yet, it contributes to an increasing number of deaths. These range from pneumonia, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, chronic lung disease and lung cancer.
“Increases in ambient air pollution and in ambient air pollution-related disease are evident today in Ghana, the most economically advanced of the countries we examined… ” the report highlights.
According to the UNEP report, exposure to air pollution during pregnancy and early childhood can cause brain damage defects in children. This can have implications on their cognitive function, in terms of IQ.
This is important to note, since cognitive function is a key predictor of earning potential, health and longevity, the report indicates. And thus underpins human capital and national progress.
As such, the report reveals that PM2.5 pollution was responsible for 1.96 billion loss of IQ points in African children.
According to UNEP, the overarching goal of the report was to quantify air pollution’s impacts on health, human capital, and the economy across Africa, with particular focus on Ethiopia, Ghana and Rwanda.
Susan Gardener, Director of Ecosystems, UNEP remarked: “This report will help leaders of African countries understand the full health and economic implications of various pathways to economic growth and development.”
READ ALSO: Covid-19 and global chips shortage: Toyota streamlines production forecast by 300 cars
Leave a Reply