ASAP East Africa - from left, Dr Bikila Wodajo;Dr Francis Pope, from the University of Birmingham; Professor Michael Gatari; and Dr Mark Henry Rubarenzya.

An alliance of African and British experts has gathered at the University of Birmingham to understand how to save lives at risk from air pollution – one of the biggest killers in urban Africa.

Led by the University of Birmingham, the three-day conference is part of a major international research project looking at how rapid urbanisation in three African cities - Addis Ababa, Kampala and Nairobi impacts upon air quality.

‘A Systems Approach to Air Pollution in East Africa’ (ASAP East Africa) brings together leading UK and East African researchers in air pollution, urban planning, economic geography, public health, social sciences and development studies to provide a framework for improved air quality management in East African cities.

Funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) through the East Africa Research Fund, the study aims to develop new ways of monitoring air pollution to gather evidence on the causes, consequences and levels of air pollution in African cities.

Air pollution presents a global problem - causing an estimated 5.5 million premature deaths worldwide - one in every ten total deaths. Given the lack of air quality data in low and middle income countries, local governments often struggle to understand how air pollution impacts on urban residents or factor air pollution concerns into urban planning. 

This challenge is particularly pressing in East African cities where population growth between 2015 and 2030 is expected to be substantial; for example, Addis Ababa’s population is projected to increase by 80%, Kampala’s 103% and Nairobi’s 82%.

For more information, please contact Tony Moran, International Communications Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0) 121 414 8254 or +44 (0)782 783 2312. For out-of-hours enquiries, please call +44 (0) 7789 921 165.

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 5,000 international students from over 150 countries.
  • Project Aims: ASAP applies a rigorous approach to diagnosing the integrated urbanisation challenges facing East African cities, with a focus on the development of a holistic diagnosis that places the causes and impacts of air pollution in the context of the city’s interlinked systems. 
  • It seeks to address the numerous development issues associated with poor air quality, and initiate a new framework for deconstructing cities, fostering a more liveable and sustainable urbanisation. 
  • Specifically, ASAP will deliver against the following overarching aims:
  • study urbanisation trends and their impact on air quality; 
  • develop robust and cost appropriate approaches to monitoring air pollution;
  • generate a holistic evidence base on the causes, consequences and levels of air pollution;
  • identify and engage with locations and communities which are most vulnerable;
  • identify social, environmental, policy and management measures to tackle air pollution; 
  • understand the dynamic political economies of focus cities and how these influence urban governance and air quality management;
  • raise awareness of air pollution problems and impact policy uptake.