Photo by Ninno JackJr on Unsplash

Luchtverontreiniging in Kampala, Oeganda

Als er niet snel concrete maatregelen worden getroffen, wordt de hoofdstad van de Parel van Afrika binnen enkele tientallen jaren vrijwel onbewoonbaar.
Uganda, Eastern Africa

Story by Anna Adima. Translated by Jan Messchendorp
Published on February 27, 2022.

This story is also available in GB de es fr it kr tr



Net als de meeste inwoners van Kampala, Oeganda (waar ik vanwege veldonderzoek voor mijn promotie nu woon), adem ik dagelijks meer aan een giftige cocktail van stof, uitlaatgassen en industrierook in dan goed voor mij is.

Kampala is de hoofdstad van Oeganda, en met een jaarlijkse groei van 4,03% en een bevolking van 1,6 miljoen mensen is het een van de snelstgroeiende steden ter wereld. De groei van de industrie en de verstedelijking gaan ook gepaard met een groter aantal voertuigen: daarvan rijden er in de straten van Kampala ongeveer 50.000, waaronder auto’s, bussen, vrachtwagens en motortaxi’s. Veel van deze voertuigen zijn oud en zonder oog voor het milieu vervaardigd. Samen met gevaarlijk industrieel afval dragen ze bij aan de grote luchtverontreiniging in de stad. Verder komen er giftige stoffen vrij bij het verbranden van afval en bij het stoken van hout of houtskool voor de voedselbereiding binnenshuis.

Kampala is na Kano in Nigeria de meest vervuilde stad van Afrika: met een PM2,5 (fijnstof met een omvang van 2,5 micrometer, dat van alle luchtverontreinigende stoffen het meest schadelijk voor de gezondheid is) van gemiddeld 40,8µg/m³ in 2018, ligt het gehalte ruim boven het aanbevolen streefcijfer van 10 µg/m³ van de Wereldgezondheidsorganisatie. De effecten van deze verschillende vormen van luchtvervuiling zijn in Kampala dagelijks voelbaar. Wanneer ik op een van de zeven heuvels van Kampala sta, zie ik hoe een dikke smogwolk als een verstikkende deken boven de stad hangt. Als je in het vreselijk drukke verkeer komt vast te zitten, wordt je blootgesteld aan de dodelijke uitlaatgassen van de voertuigen om je heen. Buiten (hard)lopen of fietsen kan gevaarlijk zijn: vroeger liep je vooral kans om door een auto te worden aangereden of het slachtoffer te worden van geweld, maar nu is het grootste risico dat je ongezonde lucht inademt (en daarom sport ik binnen). Verrassend is het dan ook niet dat luchtwegaandoeningen hier in opmars zijn. Het aantal sterfgevallen dat verband houdt met luchtverontreiniging, stond in Oeganda in 2017 op 13.000.

De lokale pers is zich bewust van de gevaren van luchtvervuiling in Kampala en Oeganda. Verschillende nieuwsstations roepen op tot actie, en academici en het stadsbestuur van Kampala geven het publiek voorlichting over het gif dat we inademen. In 2018 heeft de Oegandese regering een wet aangenomen om de invoer van auto’s ouder dan 15 jaar te verbieden, met als doel de vervuiling in het land terug te dringen. Eigenaars van auto’s die ouder dan vijf jaar zijn, moeten een milieuheffing betalen.

Maar is dat genoeg om de luchtverontreiniging te bestrijden? Mensen die in Oeganda wandelen of van het openbaar vervoer gebruikmaken, worden geassocieerd met de arbeidersklasse en de rijken in de stad kijken vaak op hen neer. Bovendien is het openbaar vervoer niet altijd de veiligste of de betrouwbaarste manier om je te verplaatsen. Vooral vrouwen hebben last van intimidatie en geweld (veel vrouwen in mijn kennissenkring hebben dit helaas aan den lijve ondervonden). Er is een tweeledige transformatie nodig: het openbaar vervoer moet veiliger en toegankelijker worden, ook voor gemarginaliseerde personen in de stedelijke ruimte, en er moet een eind komen aan het idee dat deze vorm van vervoer uitsluitend voor de armen is.

Uiteraard zijn dit maar kleine oplossingen voor een heel groot probleem. Maar als er niet snel concrete maatregelen worden getroffen, wordt de hoofdstad van de Parel van Afrika binnen enkele tientallen jaren vrijwel onbewoonbaar.


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Anna Adima

Anna Adima

Of German-Ugandan heritage, Anna is a PhD student at the University of York in the UK, where she is researching East African History. She is particularly interested in women’s history, heritage preservation, and issues surrounding race and feminism. With stints in Mwanza, The Hague, Toulouse, London, and Nairobi – in between returning to her ‘passport countries’ – Anna is privileged to have called different places around the world home. When she is not covered in dust looking at old documents in historical archives, Anna enjoys drinking coffee, swimming, and can often be found curled up in her favourite spot on the couch reading a book. She tweets @anna_adima.

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