WECF Georgia Begins New Project on Indoor Air Pollution
This month, WECF Georgia is kicking-off its new project, Clean Air for Children, that aims to tackle indoor air pollution in public kindergartens and schools, focusing on three regions in the country.
September 05, 2019
Clean Air for Children
Donor Organization — Europe Foundation
Project duration — September 1st, 2019 – November 30th, 2020
Implementing Organization — WECF Georgia
In Georgia, the mortality rate due to indoor air pollution is 31.72 deaths per 100,000, making it the highest rate across Europe and the Caucasus. In 2017 alone, nearly 1,900 premature deaths were attributed to indoor air pollution. This is mainly caused by the reliance on firewood and other biomass for heating and cooking purposes by more than half of the Georgian population. An estimated 1,000 kindergartens in Georgia use firewood in inefficient stoves to meet their heating needs during the cold season, inevitably resulting in unhealthy levels of air pollution with small particles. In addition, poor ventilation remains widespread and results in high pollution levels inside the classrooms. Although exposure to unhealthy levels of airborne pollution creates an environmental health problem for everyone, children are especially vulnerable to the adverse effects as they breathe more rapidly than adults and thus absorb more pollutants. Such exposure can result in several short and long-short term health problems, thus impairing the healthy development of children.
To raise awareness of the environmental and public health risks associated with indoor air-polluting activities in Georgia, the Clean Air for Children project aims to mobilize stakeholders to improve the indoor air quality (IAQ) in kindergartens throughout the country. The project has three regions - Imereti, Mtskheta-Mtianeti and Samtskhe-Javakheti, where 60 kindergartens are selected to take part in a baseline air quality study that will actively monitor indoor pollutant levels and collect current information on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) practices and management. The findings of the study will be published in a report that also includes recommendations on practical and easy measures to improve the air quality, such as ventilation and the use of clean technologies.
The project will raise awareness and change behavior towards IAQ practices among local schools and kindergartens, administrations of municipalities and regions, the central government and the general public in open trainings and round-table meetings. The project will start dialogues with stakeholders and relevant government institutions to develop policy recommendations and low-cost and efficient mitigation strategies for kindergartens and other public buildings. An advocacy campaign to call for stringent implementation of the Association Agenda obligations and other relevant legislations, among governing decision-makers and actors will begin near the end of the kindergarten survey.
The public will also learn about the findings and general information on indoor air pollution through different local, national and social media platforms as a part of an inclusive public awareness campaign to raise individual and community-based knowledge on ways to reduce indoor air pollution. This project, with the support of stakeholders on all levels of society, strives to open a conversation about the adverse effects of poor air quality indoors and share information and recommendations that will help provide future solutions and behavioral change to this national issue.