Championing air quality for all is key priority for US- Ms Littlejohn

Ms Jennifer R. Littlejohn, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, US, says ensuring air quality for all especially vulnerable groups is one of the key priorities of US's environmental programmes. As part of the strategies, the US, she stated was supporting Ghana through the University of Ghana's (UG) Afri-SET, an air quality sensor evaluation, calibration, testing and training centre. Speaking at a seminar during her visit to UG, Ms Littlejohn said the US was committed to further strengthening the evaluation centre and helping it to establish similar across the African continent. She was conducted round the air pollution facility at UG to familiarised herself with the operations. She said such facilities would encourage creativity among scientists to develop low-cost sensors to contribute to the collection of real time air quality data to inform decision makers and for the ordinary person to make informed decisions. Ms Littlejohn said it wou ld also foster effective and efficient collaboration and knowledge-sharing to address pressing public health issues. ' When it comes to air quality, knowledge is power. By making data widely available, we empower local communities to understand, act on air quality and use the data to advocate for policy changes to improve air quality,' she said. The Environmental Diplomat stated that air pollution was not just something that irritated the eyes and the throat -but a killer, which Ghana and the rest of Africa needed to address. The facility has started running training for experts as part of its larger objective to increase regional capacity and cooperation on air quality, as well as forming a community of practice for scientists, health experts, and governments throughout the region. In the area of clean cooking, the US has built the capacity of officials of the cookstove laboratory at the Institute of Industrial Research of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, (IIR-CSIR) to play its role to wards improving air quality. It was done through the Round Robin Testing Programme, an initiative supported by the United States of America's Environmental Protection Agency and United Nations Foundation's Clean Cooking Alliance. The laboratory is well positioned to support Ghana and the continent to contribute to meeting climate action plans of reducing emissions from traditional cookstoves. More than six out of ten homes in Ghana for instance cook using traditional cookstoves, which generate soot, which harm users especially women, and deteriorate the quality of air. Although the Centre has existed for over 13 years, recent capacity building and International Organisation for Standardisation accreditation has enhanced its operation. Source: Ghana News Agency