The capital of Kyrgyzstan has a serious problem with air pollution, especially caused by polluting urban traffic. The car density in Bishkek is one of the highest in the world: about 640 cars per 1,000 inhabitants (Germany has a car density of 550 per 1,000 inhabitants), diesel-driven minibuses (marshrutka) replace a missing public transport system, and the population suffers from increasing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. A multi-stakeholder-cooperation is needed in order to identify and implement solutions. That include non-governmental organisations, researchers, authorities, political actors and citizens.
What exactly environmental organisations can and should do with who, when and how - this was the subject of two meetings between DRA and the Kyrgyz environmental organization MoveGreen - МувГрин.
The meetings took place in Bishkek and Berlin in September 2018 and were carried out under the Перспективы для молодежи twinning programme of GIZ / MitOst e.V. With the twinning programme, DRA and MoveGreen also received the opportunity to intensively learn about the activities of the respective organisations, to implement first joint project activities in order to improve air quality in Bishkek and to develop resulting cooperation projects.
During her visit to Bishkek, DRA colleague Judith Kiss had the chance to talk with representatives of non-governmental organizations, authorities and research institutes focused on air pollution. It became clear that there is a lack of studies as well as statistical data on the emissions and the exact sources of air pollution, but also on strategic plans of air pollution control by the authorities. An attractive, climate-friendly and comprehensive local public transport as well as a bicycle infrastructure would be urgently needed, but also a stronger information and environmental education of the population.
The work of MoveGreen is therefore aimed at providing measurement data for particulates using a citizens’ monitoring system and at lobbying for ambitioius air quality management. As part of his visit, DRA also invited two experts: the first, András Lukács from the Hungarian NGO The Clean Air Action Group, gave a public lecture on worldwide best and worst practices on air pollution. He also gave recommendations on activities that could lead to rapid and effective results for Bishkek (for example, the introduction of a separate bus lane or a vehement promotion of bus and trolleybus traffic).
The other expert, Rajko Zschiegener from the citizens' initiative on air pollution measurement Luftdaten, offered a workshop for interested citizens of Bishkek on the construction of self-made measurement-devices for particulates. The collected data of the established measuring stations will be published on the online map.
During the return visit to Berlin, MoveGreen´s colleague Altynai Amantur-kyzy wanted to get to know more about the German experiences on air quality management. Therefore, she met German environmental associations and authorities working on air pollution control (like representatives of the environmental NGOs BUND Berlin and Deutsche Umwelthilfe, the German Cyclist’s Association ADFC, the Berlin Senate Department for Environment, Transport and Climate Protection, as well as the Federal Environment Agency Umweltbundesamt.
Now, it is time to work out concrete projects on air improvement in Bishkek, which support various local actors from civil society, politicians and scientists to develop and implement solutions, including international exchange of expertise and experience.