More than 14,300 Kenyans die every year from health conditions which can be traced back to indoor air pollution, a new United Nations report has revealed.
Wood and kerosene, which are behind most of the pollution, are still the dominant fuels used by the poor for cooking and lighting in the country.
Pneumonia is one of the biggest killers associated with air pollution and has led to half of all the global deaths associated with air pollution.
The UN report titled “Actions on Air Quality” also revealed that car exhaust fumes contribute to 40 per cent of the particulate matter air pollution in urban areas.
Imported second hand vehicles and frequent traffic jams in urban areas, along with poor vehicle maintenance have exacerbated the air pollution problem in the country.
Motorised transport is one of the fastest growing sectors in Kenya, with an average growth rate of 12 per cent per year for light duty vehicles.
Mr Rob de Jong, head of the UNEP Transport Unit said that Kenya has made great strides towards containing pollution from car exhaust emissions, but more needs to be done.
“Kenya is among the countries in the world that made a decision to allow only low sulphur fuels would be allowed in,” he said on Tuesday as he launched the report at the UN offices in Gigiri.
Most of the other outdoor emissions are associated with combustion facilities within industries, such as boilers and standby power generators.
Industrial emissions contributes less than 7 per cent of the particulate matter concentration in the atmosphere.
The report revealed that air quality monitoring in Kenya is practically non-existent, although a few cases of monitoring have happened after complaints from the public, only to be abandoned later on.
United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director Mr Achim Steiner said many developing countries do not even have the technology to monitor air quality.
This means that they may not even be aware of the extent of the problem and are not well placed to come up with policies to deal with the problem.
But some local solutions to the problem of fuel emissions were celebrated in this year’ United Nations Environment Assembly where the report was launched.
For instance, the Ruiru Youth Community Empowerment Program has developed a less-polluting firewood-burning stove that is up to 60 per cent more efficient than traditional open fires common in rural areas.