According to the World Health Organization, about two million people die because of air pollution in the world every year. Polluted air is one of the most acute modern problems. Unfortunately, the same is true in Kyrgyzstan. In recent years, Bishkek residents have often observed a suffocating veil of smoke, soot and exhaust fumes. Due to climatic factors, the problem is exacerbated during the heating season but at other times the air quality in the city leaves much to be desired. All these years, the city authorities did not seem to notice this problem at all. They act as it does not exist.
“According to air pollution reports in the European Union, the bulk of premature deaths from polluted air can be attributed to particulate matter sized from 2.5 to 10 micrometers (PM2.5, PM10),” says environmental engineer Baktygul Stakeeva. According to the WHO, the constant presence of particles in the lungs causes inflammatory processes, which, in their turn, result in respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Suspended particles settle in the lungs, from where hazardous chemicals spread via the blood throughout the body resulting in potentially fatal consequences”.
The situation was driven from the dead-lock due to the efforts of young environmental activists from the MoveGreen Public Association who jointly with the experts tried to draw public attention to the high level of air pollution through measuring harmful particles with the use of special sensors installed in different parts of the city. At the same time, a large number of articles were published in the mass media, publications were made on the social networks and TV programs. All of them reported to the citizens about the causes of smog in Bishkek and the harmful effects of polluted air on people’s health, especially on respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. The townspeople began to pay attention to black smoke from various urban buildings, the acrid smells from household waste burnt, large amounts of exhaust gases of cars in traffic jams and shared such posts in the social networks. Many townspeople told about the deterioration of their health. However, the state authorities responsible for the environmental situation in the city stayed indifferent to the problem, stating that air quality is normal and there is no reason for concern.
Only when there was formed a critical mass of civic activists and environmental experts who saw the problem as a whole and argued that such a situation resulted from destructive actions by the local authorities and the authorities in urban planning which were aimed at expanding the roads. This in turn led to even more vehicles in the city, thoughtless felling of trees from such extensions and construction of chaotic multi-storey buildings also affected the wind rose of Bishkek, the situation changed. They managed to draw the attention of the Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic who instructed to set up an inter-ministerial working group and work out efficient measures to address the problem.
As a result of the collection, analysis and visualization of data on the problem of air cleanliness and advocacy organized, the Kyrgyz Parliament initiated the law “On Clean Air”.
“MoveGreen” Public Association is a grantee of the Soros Foundation -Kyrgyzstan.