Air Pollution in Nigeria
Nigeria has the largest number of deaths due to air pollution in Africa, while the country ranks fourth for air pollution across the globe. Statistics indicate that in 2016, 150 fatalities occurred per 100,000 people as a result of this environmental issue. The State of the Global Air Report that the Health Effects Institute (HEI) published determined that Nigeria’s air quality is amidst the most lethal worldwide. Atmospheric threats such as generator fumes, automobile emissions and crop burning cause air pollution.

In 2016, The HEI indicated that industrialized countries like Russia and Germany have reported lower death rates than Nigeria with 62 and 22 per 100,000 people. Meanwhile, developing countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and India have reported much higher rates with 406, 207 and 195 deaths per 100,000 people.

Causes of Air Pollution in Nigeria

Air pollution emits through generator fumes which produce the deadly gas carbon monoxide. Automobiles with older engines are also likely to emit unhealthy fumes into the atmosphere. In households, kerosene stoves produce flames that contribute to the poor air ventilation. The nation creates over 3 million tons of waste yearly and most Nigerians burn their waste in their neighborhoods rather than discarding it, contributing more pollution to the atmosphere. Another aspect that contributes to the air pollution crisis in Nigeria is the use of firewood and coal to cook.

Additionally, indoor air pollution in Nigeria is also a big issue, as the amount of fine particulate matter levels in many households surpass air quality guidelines by 20 times. In 2012, according to the WHO, Lagos, Nigeria experienced nearly 7 million deaths caused by indoor and outdoor air contamination.

Air contamination across the African continent kills over 700,000 people annually; more people die from air pollution than unsanitary hygiene practices and undernourishment. Casualties as a result of the air pollution crisis in Nigeria has increased by nearly 40 percent in the last 30 years. Nigeria has some of the highest rates of unhealthy air quality across the African continent. Overall, Nigerian cities contain the most unhealthy air quality with 10 urban areas being classified on a list of 30 cities in Africa with the most unhealthy air quality.

The Effects of Air Pollution in Nigeria

While developed countries have effective solutions in place to handle air pollution, underdeveloped countries are struggling to handle this environmental issue. Some countries have begun taking appropriate measures to handle it, though. As a result, the number of people exposed to air pollution has decreased from 3.5 billion in 1990 to 2.4 billion in 2016.

The report also indicated that 95 percent of the globe’s citizens are intaking polluted air. In 2016, extended subjection to air pollution contributed to roughly 6 million deaths, all resulting from diseases such as strokes, lung disease, lung cancer, bronchitis, asthma and heart attacks. Air pollution is one of the top leading causes of fatalities, particularly in underdeveloped countries, even after smoking, increased blood pressure and unhealthy diets. Exposure to air pollution also increases the risk of developing cancer.

Solutions to the Air Pollution Crisis

In order to effectively handle the air pollution crisis in Nigeria, it is important for the country to provide regular inspections of automobiles to ensure that older cars are not releasing harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. It is also integral that Nigeria removes cars from the road that are toxic to the environment.

The implementation of efficient electric energy will help decrease the need for generators, which produces unhealthy air pollution in households and work environments. However, Nigeria does have access to sustainable energy resources that are capable of providing power to its citizens. These methods are safer for the environment and the usage of them decreases the use of gasoline-powered generators, thus decreasing pollution.

Nigerians can reduce air pollution in the household by substituting fuelwood for biogas, which is a form of biofuel that is instinctively manufactured from the decay of natural waste. Biogas will provide sustainable options for preparing food and heating the household while eliminating air pollution both inside the household and the outside environment.

In terms of trash disposal, recycling methods will be helpful to make certain that people are not burning waste. Additionally, daily waste removal from households will also help to properly dispose of trash, which reduces the fragmentation of waste and prevents odors that contribute to air pollution.

Additionally, factories that are within metropolitan areas follow guidelines regarding sustainable practices in order to decrease air pollution in Nigeria. The National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) monitors operations to ensure that these work environments are abiding by the pollution proclamations.

In conclusion, the execution of environmentally friendly practices in Nigeria will help decrease the air pollution crisis in Nigeria that is present in households, businesses and the outside environment. In order for the elimination of air pollution to be effective, the country must pursue the regulations for all Nigerians.

Additionally, it is necessary to inform communities regarding the sources and consequences of air pollution in order for them to effectively take action in decreasing the issue. Furthermore, those that become more knowledgeable of the issue are then able to educate others and persuade the Nigerian government to continue to enforce legislation against air pollution.

Diana Dopheide
Photo: Wikipedia

Waste-to-Energy in Ethiopia Increasing Electricity and Decreasing WasteIn Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, a landfill the size of 36 soccer fields is being turned into renewable energy, meeting the needs of 30 percent of the city’s electricity. The landfill, previously the only waste disposal site in Addis Ababa, made the news in 2017 due to an onsite landslide that killed 114 people. The new energy plant, known as Reppie Waste-to-Energy in Ethiopia, plans to turn 80 percent of the city’s waste into energy each day.

Waste is turned into energy through incineration, a process already popular in many European countries. About 25 percent of European waste is turned into energy and there are over 100 waste-to-energy plants in both France and Germany. Strict European Union emissions standards ensure that no harmful emissions from the incineration process enter the atmosphere, standards that the Reppie project will be held to as well.

Electricity is produced directly from the burning of waste. As garbage is burned in a combustion chamber, heat is produced. The heat boils water, creating steam, which in turn produces energy in a turbine. The emissions that occur in this process are cleaned before they enter the atmosphere, making this a renewable and sustainable source of clean energy.

The Reppie facility came into development out of a partnership between the government of Ethiopia and several international partners, including Chinese and Danish companies. This partnership came together to tailor the needs of the new energy plant to sub-Saharan Africa, as opposed to the waste-to-energy plants already operating in Europe.

The Ethiopian project further protects the environment and its citizens from harmful toxins that are released into groundwater supplies and the atmosphere at landfill sites. Methane is a harmful greenhouse gas that adds to the negative effects of climate change and is typically produced at landfill sites; this project will reduce methane emissions, as well as save space and generate electricity.

In addition to providing energy to three million people, the Reppie project plans to make an additional three million bricks from the waste and recover 30 million liters of water from the landfill. These materials will be additionally used to benefit the population of Addis Ababa. Furthermore, the plant will create hundreds of jobs for people who previously relied on scavenging at the waste site, a dangerous occupation.

In Ethiopia, only 27 percent of the population has access to electricity. While that number includes rural areas, in only urban areas such as Addis Ababa, the number rises to almost 92 percent. However, the Reppie plant is connected to the national grid and the introduction of waste-to-energy in Ethiopia will spread from urban areas and be able to serve rural areas as well, increasing access to electricity to all Ethiopians.

The Reppie Waste-to-Energy in Ethiopia will aid in reducing poverty conditions through increasing access to electricity, creating jobs and improving the environment to the benefit of human health. The plant will additionally be a model for similar plants across the continent of Africa. Already, seven other plants are being planned. These plants together will leave a lasting positive impact on both the environment and the energy needs of people across the continent.

– Hayley Herzog

Photo: Flickr

solar power to help eliminate povertyWhen extreme poverty is closely examined, a lack of resources is often found as the underlying catalyst. According to the International Energy Agency, 1.2 billion people worldwide lack access to a power grid. In developing countries, finding and utilizing renewable resources is essential.

By using solar power to help eliminate poverty, developing countries inch closer to a sustainable solution. By expanding the number of people who have access to power, fewer cases of water deprivation, disease outbreaks and even education deprivation would result.


Refrigerators in South Sudan

South Sudan, the least electrified country in the world, has endured constant conflict and disease outbreaks for more than four years, according to UNICEF. With rampant malnutrition and a lack of immunizations in the war-torn nation, diseases like measles, polio and tetanus have contributed to about one in 17 children dying from a preventable cause before their first birthday.

UNICEF has begun to use solar power to help eliminate poverty through its distribution of solar-powered refrigerators. Manufactured in Germany and transported via airlift, the refrigerators are used to keep vaccines at a safe temperature while being transported to isolated locations. The funding for the transportation and installation of the solar-powered refrigerators was provided by organizations like ECHO, the World Bank, GAVI and CERF.

By using solar power to maintain vaccines, UNICEF began immunizing South Sudanese who previously had no access to electricity. According to UNICEF, approximately 1.7 million children were vaccinated for measles.


Water Pump in Malawi

A scarcity of clean drinking water in Malawi villages impacts all aspects of everyday life for Malawi villagers. According to UNICEF, 13-year-old Lucy Chalire has been affected by the lack of clean water in multiple areas of her life. Chalire often suffered from diarrhea because of dirty drinking water. She also walked about five kilometers to collect the nearest water, leaving her exhausted and creating another roadblock to her education.

“I had diarrhea so many times. I would stay at home for around two weeks until I got better,” Chalire told UNICEF.  “I missed a lot of lessons, but I always tried to catch up by copying notes from my friends.”

After installing a solar-powered water pump in Chalire’s village, people were able to access nearby water that hand-powered pumps could not reach. The solar power alternative not only increases the amount of clean water available, it provides water during the drought season, allowing farmers to increase their crop yield.

UNICEF Malawi’s Chief of Water Sanitation and Hygiene Paulos Workneh said, “It’s low maintenance and should last for at least 10 years. And solar power is cheaper, environment-friendly and more sustainable than relying on expensive diesel generators.”

By using solar power to help eliminate poverty, Malawi is taking steps toward a sustainable future.


Education in the Solomon Islands

The Solar Power Pilot Project in the Solomon Islands aimed to improve the current situation in the average classroom, which has led to only about 17 percent of adults being literate. Today, students in the Solomon Islands lack lights, air conditioning and even fans. With classrooms reaching high temperatures, students’ ability to learn can be hindered, according to UNICEF.

The Solar Power Pilot Project supplied classrooms with fans, and electric lights by installing solar panels in schools. In UNICEF’s review of the project, it was decided that a more effective way to use solar power is the installation at the homes of students. Since students live far from their school, afterschool activities are nonexistent and solar energy is not used to its full potential.

Using solar power to help eliminate poverty around the world is a reliable and renewable option that grants people never before seen resources.

– Austin Stoltzfus

Photo: Flickr

solar energy in ZambiaThe Republic of Zambia is a landlocked country in southern Africa with a population of over 16.5 million. A shocking 54.4 percent of this population lives below the World Bank’s standardized poverty line. Currently, Zambia is unable to effectively meet the energy needs of its citizens. As a result, the Zambian government, USAID, independent investors and NGOs throughout the U.S. and Europe are investing in solar energy in Zambia, as they believe it has the potential to greatly reduce poverty and contribute to meeting the country’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.


Problems with Current Zambian Energy Infrastructure

A majority of Zambia’s nationalized energy production is created using hydroelectric dams; however, the dams face many problems in terms of their reach and reliability. Dams in the country only provide power to 10 percent of the Zambian population. Furthermore, the dams become unreliable as drought conditions increase throughout southern Africa. Zambia’s climate pattern works around a wet and dry season. As the rainy seasons become shorter and less intense, the dams are not filled to capacity. Less water in dam spillways inherently results in less energy production and more frequent blackouts.

Consequently, a majority of Zambians rely on charcoal to meet their energy and heat needs. The need for charcoal results in widespread deforestation of the savannah woodlands that make up a majority of the Zambian natural ecosystem. As a result, habitat destruction decreases biodiversity, degrades the natural ecosystem services and damages what could be a lucrative Zambian ecotourism industry. Because of these problems, the Zambian government and outside investors are looking toward solar alternatives, recognizing the benefits of solar energy in Zambia.


The Solution:  Solar Energy in Zambia

Director of the Zambian Development Agency (ZDA) Patrick Chisanga and other branches of the Zambian government are teaming up with investors throughout the United States and Europe to provide funding toward solar energy in Zambia. The ZDA is currently negotiating a $500 million solar investment deal from an unnamed German company hoping to provide projects and products to the growing market.

In 2015, USAID Zambia and Power Africa provided $2 million of funding to the International Finance Corporation’s (IFC) Scaling Solar project, which has contributed $4 billion in global solar investments, to further develop smaller-scale commercial and utility solar energy in Zambia. NGOs like the U.K.-based Solar Aid are currently working in conjunction with a group called Sunny Munny to develop solar projects and provide resources to the very eager Zambian communities.

Moving Toward the Future

Solar energy development in Zambia continues what is already a growing trend of technological leapfrogging throughout the African continent. Zambians understand that they may never be a part of the nationalized power grid and therefore readily accept solar energy infrastructure as a solution to this problem. In a report conducted by BBC in Jan. 2018, reporters describe buzzing excitement in villages after they set up their solar technologies and finally had access to their own non-biofuel energy source.

With the help of Zambian government action, USAID investment, private investment and nonprofits like SolarAid, solar energy in Zambia will help the country approach several of its 2030 Sustainable Development Goals: providing citizen access to reliable modern energy resources, building resilient infrastructure and protecting and restoring natural ecosystems within the country.

– Daniel Levy

Photo: Flickr

Solar Power in Rural Areas

Many Americans take the availability of electricity for granted. In rural areas around the world, however, access to electricity is sparse and expensive. The use of solar power in rural areas is a cheaper, cleaner alternative.

One significant benefit of solar power in rural areas is increased availability. Rural areas lack this resource because their countries’ electric grids stop before reaching them.

Worse, extending the electric grid costs a lot of money. For example, in the United States, it would cost $35,000 to $50,000 to extend an electricity grid for even one mile. Relying on solar power will remove this cost burden from electric companies and rural citizens.

Bringing in solar power gives those communities affected more money to spend on necessities. According to Mother Jones, the cost of nonrenewable diesel is “roughly $10 each month- money that could otherwise buy more than 20 pounds of rice.”

Solar energy is also better for health reasons. Indoor air pollution from burning non-renewable energy sources like wood and coal kills more than 4 million people a year in Tanzania alone.

Another possible benefit of introducing solar power is new economic opportunities. Mother Jones discusses how Tanzanian vendors have made a profit selling inexpensive solar-powered items due to the increased demand.

Unfortunately, solar power does not always provide enough energy to maintain electricity for long periods. Reuters explains how the few hours of electricity that small-scale solar energy provides “was not enough to boost savings, help launch new businesses, increase time spent working or studying or otherwise significantly improve people’s lives.” Another detriment to solar power in rural areas is inclement weather limiting the electricity produced by solar energy.

Regardless of these disadvantages, the advantages of solar power in rural areas illustrate that the development of better solar technology is beneficial for areas that otherwise would not be able to access electricity.

Cortney Rowe

Photo: Flickr


In Malawi, only nine percent of the population is connected to the electricity grid. In rural areas, this number drops to one percent. In a country with a population of 16.7 million, growing at three percent a year; this is not sustainable.

The country’s economic and social development will slow drastically, if the energy crisis in Malawi persists.

According to a report by the BBC, the Malawian government is attempting to connect more people to the grid by opening the energy market to independent producers. Although this will make a significant difference, it comes at a price.

Malawi’s Energy Minister, Bright Msaka, said that Malawi could produce an extra 200 Mega Watts of solar energy by 2019, adding to the current capacity of 300 Mega Watts.

In the meantime, SolarAid is providing a cheaper and cleaner solution to the energy crisis in Malawi through its solar-powered lamps which can also charge mobile phones.

According to the charity’s website, many households in countries across Africa use homemade kerosene lamps. These are dangerous, emitting toxic black smoke; they are a weak light source and on average use up a significant portion of a family’s household, budget.

“A solar lamp is a compact, portable device that uses a photovoltaic panel to produce up to 10 watts of power,” according to a statement on SolarAid’s website. They typically take eight hours to charge, but can emit light for several hours.

The charity has introduced a pay-as-you-go ownership system at a cost of $12. In order to make the lamps more accessible, the organization offers a payment plan over the course of 3 or 4 months.

SolarAid’s social enterprise, SunnyMoney, is the largest distributor of solar lights in Africa. SunnyMoney has worked with Powered World Initiative USA to provide more students with solar lights that can make studying at home much easier.

“The amount of light that you get is linked to the amount of money you pay,” said Brave Mhonie, the national sales co-ordinator for SolarAid, in an interview with the BBC. While this is not a sustainable long-term solution, it is a strategy that can provide many with electricity, when they otherwise would be unable to access it.

The lamps help to address the energy crisis in Malawi, by providing a much safer alternative to kerosene, candles, or battery-powered torches. So far, SolarAid has sold 1,844,592 solar lamps and counting.

Michelle Simon

Photo:  Flickr

Solar Power in Developing CountriesNonprofit, INTASAVE-CARIBSAVE Group is seeking to improve lives globally by introducing solar power in developing countries.

While those who grew up in the United States may take electric devices such as heaters and computers for granted, many people around the world remain off-the-grid. According to INTASAVE-CARIBSAVE’s website, about 1.5 billion people worldwide currently do not have access to energy.

The organization believes that introducing solar power in developing countries will be a key strategy for reducing the negative effects of global poverty. Access to electricity translates to better health, nutrition and overall quality of life.

The vision of INTASAVE-CARIBSAVE is to help build a “world that responds to the opportunities and challenges of a changing climate and provides an equitable and sustainable future for all.” In order to achieve this goal, the organization focuses on using innovation to create solutions for problems facing communities in developing countries.

One of the most recent projects has been efforts to bring energy to rural Africa through solar power advancement. INSTASAVE’s energy division has expertise in developing Solar Nano Grids – or “SONGs” – which are designed to work efficiently and be installed easily in even the remotest of locations.

The SONGs bring clean, affordable energy, which does not burden African families with burdensome equipment. The devices do not even use cables, like the outdated and cumbersome grid model offered to rural communities.

The implications of INSTASAVE-CARIBSAVE’s efforts are vast and powerful. Not only does clean energy improve life expectancy and healthcare outcomes by bringing reliable electricity to hospitals and pollution from charcoal-burning out of homes, but it also has the potential to empower entrepreneurs in their businesses. For example, a cattle farmer with access to power can keep milk up for sale longer with the help of an electric refrigerator.

Dr. Murray Simpson is the mastermind behind this important branch of the nonprofit’s work. “It’s not energy just for energy’s sake, but actually providing positive impacts in terms of development,” Simpson said in an interview with Planet Experts. He explained that this work empowers women and helps children in terms of health and education. “It means micro-credit and environmental impacts, building impacts, and enabling micro-enterprise and entrepreneurialism across the African continent,” he said.

Jen Diamond

Sources: Intasave, Enviroliteracy , Huffingtonpost, Planet Experts
Photo: Flickr

Breakthrough Energy CoalitionParis hosted the global climate conference with heads of government and businesses in attendance. This was the 21st conference of this kind, and many maintain that it was the most productive thanks to Bill Gates’s Breakthrough Energy Coalition.

At the climate event, known as COP-21, Gates announced his plan to help address climate change. It is a collection of some of the most influential entrepreneurs, and it is known as the Breakthrough Energy Coalition.

The group includes well-known business leaders such as Richard Branson, Jack Ma and Jeff Bezos.

The coalition, led by Gates, pledges to work in tandem with national governments to increase funding for clean energy research. They will also invest in risky clean energy projects that have a long return on investment but a high potential for success.

Many of the ideas coming from existing clean energy research and development are too insecure for traditional investors. They do not want to put money into an idea that might never make it to the market. This difficult journey from innovative idea to commercial product is known as the “valley of death,” and Gates’s coalition plans to bridge it.

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition will invest in those risky ideas and be patient with the returns. Gates cites flow batteries and solar paint as two such existing products that need private sector investment. If successful, solar paint could transform any surface into a solar panel.

A crucial component of this plan is national governments. The research and development for clean energy technology must start with the government because only they have the mandate and resources to do so. Business alone cannot lead the charge.

Furthermore, government-funded programs have successfully created whole new industries that from space, defense and medical research. Gates’s coalition believes governments are key to creating the clean energy industries of the future.

In association with Gates’ announcement, President Obama and leaders around the world pledged to increase public-sector spending for research and development in clean energy. This pledge, in combination with Gates’, will constitute the biggest investment in clean energy in history.

The public sector initiative is known as Mission Innovation, including 20 nations. Each participating country agrees to double its existing funding for clean energy technology within the next five years.

This pledge will increase the budget of the 20 nations to $20 billion for clean energy. These new funds will go to research and development, and the creation of new ideas and technologies.

Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Coalition will then use their business acumen to wisely invest in technology that has the greatest potential. With patient and consistent investment, the products will bypass the “valley of death.”

These historic investments from government and businesses reflect the urgency for action. Both realize the impact climate change can have on their respect areas. It can cause unrest and war for governments, and a loss of profits for businesses.

The developing world, though, has the most to lose. Man-made climate change is primarily caused by industrialization from the developed world, but affects the developed world in a greater magnitude. This harsh irony will be reduced with the teaming up of the Breakthrough Energy Coalition and Mission Innovations.

Clean energy will allow the developing world to grow and avoid the ravages of climate change. Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Coalition will not only address climate change, but also fight poverty.

Andrew Wildes

Sources: Breakthrough Energy Coalition, Mashable, The Guardian
Photo: Here & Now

100 million people are currently living without power in rural India, and despite Australian prime minister Tony Abbott’s claims, the coal industry isn’t going to save them.

A proposal for the Carmichael coal mine, which is one of the largest coal mines in Australian history, was overturned by the Australian federal court this week. This ruling has received considerable outrage from coal industry advocates and government members alike, most notably Tony Abbott.

“This coal will power up the lives of 100 million people in India,” Abbott said, “so this is a very important project, not just for Australia, but for the wider world, and if we get to the stage where the rules are such that projects like this can be endlessly frustrated, that’s dangerous for our country and it’s tragic for the wider world.”

Unfortunately for Abbott, his claims aren’t entirely true and probably would never come to fruition. India’s energy minister has stated that India is planning on stopping all thermal coal imports within three years. The World Bank has also stated that coal-based energy is not the answer to “energy poverty.”

According to the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, coal prices from the Galilee Basin, where the Carmichael mine is located, are twice as expensive as the current cost of wholesale electricity. Even if coal was the best option for India, the country would find a better deal in importing cheaper Indonesian coal, which is significantly less expensive.

According to a recent Vasuda Foundation study, solar and off-grid energy solutions are far more cost-effective than shipping and importing conventional energy sources like coal. The environmental impact of a resource like coal is also light years more harmful than solar and electrical energy.

So, no, coal is not the answer to India’s energy crisis. Far from it, in fact. Sorry Tony Abbott.

Alexander Jones

Sources: Kohl, Sarma, Taylor
Photo: The Guardian

wood stovesEach day, 3 billion people cook meals over a fire, producing air pollution that results in 4.3 million deaths a year. To reduce this number, wood stoves can be used as an alternative to open fires. Providing a safe wood-burning cook stove would be a three-fold win for the millions of people in the developing world because:

  1. It would directly improve their health by reducing smoke inhalation.
  2. It would aid the environment by reducing the amount of wood needed for fuel.
  3. It would reduce poverty by minimizing the amount of time spent gathering wood and cooking food each day.

Potential Energy is a nonprofit dedicated to making and adapting life-changing technologies to be used in the developing world. With this goal in mind, they created the Berkeley-Darfur Stoves to improve the lives of women and their families.

Potential Energy first designed the stove in the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The stoves are low-cost and high-efficiency. They reduce the amount of fuel used by 50 percent, saving the women and families time and money. In addition, they asked for input from Darfuri women to maximize usage.

Some of the modifications that arose from the Darfuri women’s suggestions were a tapered wind color to maintain efficiency in the windy Darfur environment. The stove itself has feet for stability and stakes in case additional stability is needed. Most importantly, there is a small firebox, which prevents the user from putting in more wood than is absolutely necessary.

Once the designing and production processes were set in place, Potential Energy opened up local workshops where they now produce about 100 stoves per day, creating jobs and local business. There are two facets to the business, sales and distribution, and both of these bring a steady income to the employees, all of who are from the area.

Potential Energy teams up with local community and women’s organizations to distribute the stoves to those most in need. As of 2014, 42,000 stoves have been distributed to areas in Sudan and Ethiopia.

Hannah Resnick

Sources: Cookstoves, Potential Energy, Smithsonian
Photo: Wikimedia Commons