Nepal Purbadhar

सोमवार, बैशाख ३, २०८१
Monday, April 15, 2024

सोमवार, बैशाख ३, २०८१
Monday, April 15, 2024

World Bank warns of deadly effect of pollution in South Asia

KATHMANDU: A new World Bank report states that there are economically feasible, cost-effective solutions to achieve clean air in South Asia Region, underlining the need to coordinate policies and investments by the countries in the region. South Asia is home to 9 of the world’s 10 cities with the worst air pollution, which causes an estimated 2 million premature deaths across the region each year and incurs significant economic costs.

Issuing a press release on Striving for Clean Air: Air Pollution and Public Health in South Asia, the World Bank says concentrations of fine particulate matter such as soot and small dust in some of the region’s most densely populated and poor areas are up to 20 times higher than what WHO considers healthy.

“Exposure to such extreme air pollution has impacts ranging from stunting and reduced cognitive development in children to respiratory infections and chronic and debilitating diseases. This drives up healthcare costs, lowers a country’s productive capacity, and leads to lost days worked,” the report says.

The report further states that large industries, power plants, and vehicles are dominant sources of air pollution around the world, but in South Asia, other sources make substantial additional contributions. These include the combustion of solid fuels for cooking, and heating, emissions from small industries such as brick kilns, burning of municipal and agricultural waste, and cremation.

Air pollution travels long distances— crossing the municipal, state, and national boundaries—and gets trapped in large “airsheds” that are shaped by climatology and geography. The report identifies six major airsheds in South Asia where spatial interdependence in air quality is high. Particulate matter in each airshed comes from various sources and locations, for example, less than half of the air pollution in South Asia’s major cities is produced within cities.

“Persistently hazardous levels of air pollution have caused a major public health crisis in South Asia that demands urgent action,” said Martin Raiser, World Bank Vice President for South Asia. “Curbing air pollution requires not only tackling its specific sources, but also close coordination across local and national jurisdictional boundaries. Regional cooperation can help implement cost-effective joint strategies that leverage the interdependent nature of air quality.”

The report analyzes four scenarios to reduce air pollution with varying degrees of policy implementation and cooperation among countries. The most cost-effective scenario, which calls for full coordination between airsheds, would cut the average exposure of PM 2.5 in South Asia to 30 µg/m³ at a cost of $278 million per µg/mᶾ of reduced exposure, and save more than 750,000 lives annually.

“The economic benefits of policies to reduce air pollution in South Asia exceed the economic costs by a large margin,” said Hans Timmer, World Bank Chief Economist for South Asia. “But optimal solutions depend on several factors such as better monitoring systems, more scientific capacity, greater coordination between governments, and behavioral change among farmers, small firms, and households.”

The report has offered a three-phased roadmap for air monitoring, discouraging traditional power plants and factories, and economic incentives for the private sector.

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