Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, September 21st, 2018

Kabul Air Pollution: Causes and Socio-Economic Costs

Environmental pollution is one of the human made phenomena that has existed for centuries but only started to be significant following the industrial revolution in 19th century. When the natural environment cannot destroy an element without creating harm or damage to itself, pollution occurs. Indeed, elements involved are not produced by nature, and the destroying process can vary from a few days to thousands of years. Pollution is not a phenomenon that only exists in the industrial countries; in other words, it a critical problem both in the developed and developing countries.
Kabul as one of the most polluted world’s cities
Air pollution is one of the biggest challenges and hazards that the people are facing in Kabul. Every day, a pall of smog and dust hangs over Kabul’s streets. It clings to the face, disturbs the breathing, burns the eyes, and stains the hands of the Kabul citizens. Some health experts believe that, the biggest killer in Kabul is not the terrorist attacks, but air pollution. Air pollution causes many diseases including respiratory diseases, allergies, miscarriages, dumbness and even cancer. The findings of a research published in the Psychological Science showed that Stress and anxiety caused by living in areas with high levels of damaging particulate matter were linked to a rise in violent crimes, robbery and burglary. According to the findings of this study, air pollution not only corrupted people’s health, but also could contaminate their morality. The psychological experience of air pollution could increase anxiety, which in turn people’s tendency to behave unethically would increase. In terms of economic costs, air pollution costs the global economy more than $5 trillion annually in welfare costs, with the most devastating damage occurring in the developing world, according to a World Bank report. The welfare figure incorporates a number of costs associated with air pollution like health and consumption.
Steps taken to fight air pollution in Kabul
On the legislative side, the Government, with the technical assistance of UNEP, has developed an environmental law with very clear articles on air pollution. According to NEPA, the use of wood and coal has dramatically decreased as a result of the legislation and related efforts, with one notable development being that most bakeries in Kabul have switched from wood to natural gas for their ovens.
Steps needed to be taken to fight air pollution in Kabul
In addition to the above mentioned efforts, the Government must devise better public transport and encourage the private sector to invest. Furthermore, the brick kilns and other industries within and outside the vicinity of Kabul city are very dangerous for the city’s air.
The road to a cleaner, greener Kabul is not a short one, and it reflects the broader problem as Afghanistan grows. It might produce dangerous consequences if not given proper attention. Therefore, the government must develop and implement a comprehensive environmental management program to curb air pollution in Kabul and prevent further air pollution increase due to the significant rise in the number of people moving to Kabul. Among other concerns, the socio-economic costs of the air pollution are more alarming than other air pollution concerns. Last but not least, no single institution could meet the challenge alone and it requires collective efforts to manage the issue.