Like many South Asian countries, air pollution is a significant public health challenge in Nepal. But, can access to and utilization of air quality data contribute to effective air quality management? Can data tools empower citizens and policymakers to create a demand for clean air? Two high-level consultations were recently organized in Kathmandu to deliberate and discuss such policy questions, both attended by experts from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC).

The workshops in March 2024 were conducted as part of the USAID Kathmandu Clean Air program, led by FHI360 and supported by a consortium of partners, including EPIC. The Clean Air program is working towards addressing air pollution in Kathmandu Valley and its harmful impacts on health, education, and climate.

Dr. Christa Hasenkopf, Director of EPIC’s Clean Air Program, delivered multiple presentations on air quality data access and management.

The first workshop, “Democratizing air quality data for strengthening clean air action in Nepal,” focused on understanding the importance of accessible air quality data to strengthen air quality management. Dr. Christa Hasenkopf, Director of EPIC’s Clean Air Program, delivered multiple presentations during the workshop and was also part of a panel discussion that was attended by representatives from FHI 360, The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Tribhuvan University, among others. Christa’s presentations covered findings of EPIC’s recent report on closing air quality data gaps, as well as snippets from EPIC’s public registry of PM2.5 local actors.

“Air quality monitoring in Nepal has expanded significantly in recent years. The number of government monitors has doubled, and the Nepali air quality system is currently the most open government air quality data source in South Asia,” says Hasenkopf. “Nepal is poised to become the first country in South Asia to produce fully open air quality data and is a powerful example in the region of the world that most suffers from air pollution.”

The Consortium of Air Quality Researchers Nepal (CARN) co-organized the workshop. It was attended by representatives from municipalities in the Kathmandu Valley, Dept. of Environment, university students, and local entrepreneurs working on developing low-cost monitoring solutions.

The second workshop, “Utilizing Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) for Air Quality Management in Nepal,” explored how the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) can be used to understand and communicate the health impacts of air pollution in Nepal. Hasenkopf delivered a presentation on the health and data case for air pollution, and Tanushree Ganguly, Director of AQLI, conducted a hands-on exercise to familiarize participants with the AQLI web tool.

Tanushree Ganguly, Director of AQLI, conducted a hands-on exercise to familiarize participants with the AQLI web tool.

“Air pollution is a major public health risk in Nepal. The latest AQLI data shows that the average Nepalese citizen could gain more than 4.5 years of life expectancy if pollution levels met the World Health Organization’s PM2.5 guideline,” says Ganguly. “Our data can help inform local communities on the health impact of air pollution and drive policymakers to improve air pollution policies.”

This workshop was organized in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Population, Government of Nepal, and was attended primarily by representatives from municipalities in the Kathmandu Valley.

Areas of Focus: Air Quality Monitoring and Data Access
Definition
Air Quality Monitoring and Data Access
AQLI
Definition
AQLI
Particulate air pollution is one of the most serious risks to human health globally. To help communicate those risks, the Air Quality Life Index (AQLI) converts particulate air pollution into...