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Boosting Local Capacities on Air Quality Monitoring

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Air pollution is a key public health problem in Yerevan City, Armenia’s capital. There is high amount of dust, and the transport sector contributes significantly to emissions due to high car usage and traffic congestion.

In line with the Yerevan Municipality’s (YM) thrust to shift to a more sustainable mobility, CDIA provided advisory services to help the city implement a new bus network and an integrated public transport system. Air quality monitoring (AQM) was a key component of the project, not only to demonstrate how a more efficient public transport can improve air quality, but also to propose interventions that YM can pursue on their own to make their AQM consistent with international protocols, standards, and best practices.

“Air quality monitoring goes hand in hand with our other recommendations to improve public transport in Yerevan,” said Ramon Abracosa, CDIA Program Manager. “When done more effectively, it can serve as basis for pollution reduction measures and elicit better public support for transport-related reforms.”

CDIA helped YM’s AQM efforts by procuring five low-cost air quality sensors for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5). These equipment will help YM conduct a survey to establish the city’s current air quality, which in turn will serve as a baseline to demonstrate the air quality improvement benefits of the government’s investments in improved public transport.

CDIA provided training sessions as well as technical notes on air quality sensor installation and setup, data retrieval and analysis, and templates for the analysis of baseline air quality. The project preparation study team also proposed survey sites for AQM and explained the rationale for selecting the sites along the pilot bus corridor.

Alongside the purchase of sensors, CDIA offered recommendations that YM can implement to follow through CDIA’s intervention and to expedite actions under the Green City Action Plan, which includes a framework for air quality improvement.

A primary advice given was the need to understand the sources of air pollution, and where the worst affected locations are. Data derived can be used to better understand the impacts of specific sources of air pollution on public health, inform the implementation of emission reduction measures, and demonstrate the successes of transport-related measures. YM needs to collaborate with relevant agencies in collecting the necessary data.

Emphasizing the importance of stakeholder involvement, CDIA also proposed devising a consolidated air protection strategy and action plan, publishing air protection progress reports annually to track pollution hotspots and the impacts of applied measures, and coordinating monitoring locations and data reporting for better air quality management.

It further recommended facilities such as automatic AQ monitoring stations with high-accuracy reference monitors, and related capability building initiatives to allow more consistent accurate measurements, real-time reporting, and comparison with national and international standards.

Toward a more efficient decision-making and provision of information to the general public, CDIA recommended adopting an Air Quality Index for the country as a whole so that the public can better understand how air pollution relates to their health. The team also highlighted the importance of localized information generation on a weekly, monthly and annual basis.

“We hope that through our provision of low-cost sensors, capacity development, and technical advisory support, Yerevan can take that important first step toward a more integrated and effective air quality management,” said Ramon. “Taking our recommendations forward will enable YM to move closer to a more sustainable urban mobility, improved public health, and more inclusive development.”

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