CAIRO: Minister of State for Environmental Affairs Maged George discussed a report issued by his ministry detailing ongoing programs and projects to improve air quality in Egypt, at a cabinet meeting last Tuesday.
The sources of air pollution are industrial, which makes up 32 percent of air pollution in Egypt this year. Burning agricultural residues also accounts for six percent, however this number skyrockets up to 42 percent during the fall season, mainly due to the burning of rice straw. Burning municipal wastes makes up 36 percent of air pollution while vehicles contribute with 26 percent.
“There are a number of projects currently being executed to improve the air quality in Egypt which are implemented on several fronts,” George said.
An industrial program is being implemented through two different projects. The Combating Industrial Pollution Project focuses on controlling the level of industrial pollution in Greater Cairo and Alexandria. It is currently in its second phase, which started in 2007 and will go on until 2012.
The project costs up to $175 million, funded by loans from the World Bank, Japan, the European Union and France.
There are also several projects being executed in light of the Kyoto Protocol, which Egypt has signed in March 1999 and ratified in January 2005, that obliges it to reduce its greenhouse gas emission levels. Projects in this field have costs LE 14 billion so far.
The ministry is also implementing several projects to decrease the level of air pollution caused by means of transportation. All private vehicles in 26 governorates – accounting for 97 percent of private vehicles in the country – will be examined. The budget for this project is LE 15 million. There will also be surprise committees set up on the roads to examine cars and report them back to the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency.
A program will also be implemented to expand the use of natural gas for the different means of transportation. The Ministry of Petroleum has so far made 120 natural stations and 122,000 vehicles have transformed so far.
George also explained that there are several networks working on monitoring air pollution and the quality of air, including the National Network for Monitoring Air Quality, which so far includes 87 stations across different governorates.
Another network is the National Network for Monitoring Industrial Emissions, which covers 92 sites and directly monitors the chimneys of cement companies and their emission throughout the day.
An early-warning system will also be used in order to predict the impact of the weather on air quality.
George noted that the investments going in to improve the quality of air have reached LE 7.2 billion during the period of 2006 until 2010.