Kampala, capital of Uganda and its largest city, is a bustling East African city of over 1.5 million residents, who are joined each day by another 2 million people commuting into its centre.
It is one of the world’s fastest-growing cities, looking likely to become a megacity by the year 2050, and was recently ranked by Mercer as the top East African city for quality of life.
Kampala is one of the first major African cities to join the BreatheLife campaign.
While the national government is in charge of some sectors crucial to air quality, such as transport, the Kampala Capital City Authority takes ongoing measures to control air pollution, including developing low-carbon mass transit systems, urban planning with a focus on sustainable modes of transport, an emphasis on boosting energy efficiency, an increase in the use of renewable energy and action to improve indoor air quality.
The city faces daily traffic congestion problems, a major contributor to its poor air quality, which it has tried to alleviate by introducing several waves of public transit systems, some more successful than others.
Public buses and a public rail system work alongside private transport, taxis, minibuses (matatus) and motorcycle taxis (boda-bodas) to keep Kampala’s commuters moving, and a light rail system is planned.
“Kampala Capital City Authority recognises the importance of good urban air quality to public health and liveability of Kampala, and we want it to continue to be comfortable and welcoming,” said Ag. Deputy Director, Public and Corporate Affairs, Kampala Capital City Authority, Peter Kaujju.
“That’s why we have taken specific steps to cut air pollution, including transitioning our street lighting network to solar and increasing the use of LED lights, we’ve recently started the process of establishing the first phase of a light-rail mass transit system, and we’ve focused on installing cleaner institutional cook stoves in public schools and markets and encouraging the use of briquettes as an alternative to charcoal and firewood,” he said.
The KCCA has also established an anti-pollution taskforce that works with industries to implement production and resource efficiencies and control industrial pollution.
Kampala’s Climate Action Plan, developed with the French government, includes strategies and actions that would have direct and indirect impacts on air quality. These include improvements in road infrastructure coupled with good driving practices, restrictions on the importation and use of second-hand vehicles, and fuel switching to low carbon intensity fuels at households in the long-term.
It also intends to improve air quality monitoring; currently, air quality is only measured in two places in Kampala— the U.S. diplomatic mission and, as part of a project to pilot low-cost air quality monitoring tools, Makerere University’s School of Computing and Information Technology.
The city has engaged with the Climate and Clean Air Coalition and other governments to implement measures to improve its air quality and carbon footprint and continues to plan and implement relevant actions.