Kathmandu’s air quality is much polluted, particularly in the winter. The Valley’s 3 million residents are forced to breath air that has about 10 times higher pollution (measured as particulate matter less than 2.5 microns or PM2.5) than WHO’s quality guideline value. When geographical (bowl shaped topography) and seasonal (winter inversions and limited winter rain) factors combine with the domestic in-built pollutants resulted by emissions from household energy (heating, cooking), industry, transport sectors and solid waste; air pollution levels are generally at their highest during the period of November, December and January to May. Open biomass (including forest fires, crop residue burning and open burning for heating during winter) and waste burning, brick kilns (that are operational only during winter when there is very limited rainfall), further aggravate the situation. The State of Global Air, 2020 estimates that air pollution results in 42,100 deaths in Nepal each year. Moreover, poor air quality also adds up to the health complications related to COVID. Despite the environmental and health threats, open biomass and waste burning is still in practice.
A webinar participated in experts and professional was held on February 27. The event was organised by Clean Energy Nepal, a non-government organisation based in Kathmandu. It has been involved in education and awareness programmes on issues related to climate change, energy and other environmental issues and work for reducing air pollution and global warming impacts to natural and human system. Ministry of Health and Population and the Department of Environment of the Government of Nepal together with WHO, USAID Swachchha Hawa, Clean Energy Nepal and Clean Air Network Nepal were co-organisers of the online event titled Solutions to Air Pollution due to Open Burning.
The experts discussed on contribution of open burning to air pollution in Kathmandu, and its health impacts. Likewise, panellists shared their views on waste and air quality management and practical solutions to the open waste burning.