Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad met on Tuesday with a delegation of the World Bank (WB) that visits Cairo these days from 12 to 16 August, to discuss future cooperation between the bank and Egypt regarding decreasing air pollution.
According to a statement from the ministry, the meeting reviewed the initial impacts of using sustainable means of transportation on air quality. The meeting also discussed means of cooperation in the frame of the Pollution Management and Environmental Health programme (PMEH), which aims at putting a strategic plan for managing air quality in megacities.
Fouad and the delegation addressed the initial outcomes of the study of the economic evaluation for the environmental deterioration, which resulted in air and water pollution, as well as discussing the articles of the memorandum of understanding regarding the PMEH. The meeting also included discussions the bank’s proposed policies for decreasing pollution rates and the bank’s support for the agency of environmental affairs, in order to apply those policies which should be reflected in enhancing the quality of peoples’ lives.
On Monday, Fouad announced in a press conference the procedures for countering air pollution and black clouds in 2018. The plan includes mutual procedures with other concerned institutions and ministries that will last over the whole year to counter all forms of pollution.
Egypt faces the black clouds annually following the harvesting rice season during the summer months. The black cloud is a result of burning huge amounts of rice straw in the cultivated land in the Nile Delta.
According to the World Health Organisation report, air pollution was responsible for the death of over 43,000 people in Egypt in 2012. A recent report for the United Nations Environment Programme in December, pointed out that rates of respiratory diseases have increased, adding to the burden on the state’s already-ailing hospitals. Citing the WB, the report indicates that the Egyptian economy is taking a pummelling, with poor air quality knocking off at least one percent of gross domestic product every year.
Egypt’s Ministry of Environment warned also in a recent report that the percentage of air pollution has increased in Egypt over the permitted limits, reaching 81% particularly from 2014 to 2017.