As part of activities organized to mark the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Coalition of NGOs for Child Protection KOMF held a Media Conference, where presented a document with data and recommendations on environmental protection in Kosovo. Specifically, this conference was organized by Thematic Group on Health within KOMF, which presented data on the actual situation of air pollution in Kosovo, the damages caused to children’s health and specific recommendations to responsible institutions. The document was presented by Donjeta Kelmendi from KOMF, Vlorian Molliqaj from Action for Mothers and Children and Bukureza Surdulli from KOMF.
In recent years, Kosovo’s citizens have been facing the problem of air pollution, especially in urban areas. Children are the most affected by the physical and psychological health damage caused by air pollution. According to the measurement of air pollution in Kosovo, made by the US Embassy, in the winter of 2017 the situation was alarming, with the index marking a value higher than 500 μg / m e, which is considered an alarming value by World Health Organization. According to World Bank data, it is estimated that air pollution in Kosovo causes 852 premature deaths, 318 new cases of chronic bronchitis, 605 admitted cases in hospital and 11,900 emergency visits each year. Recent studies show that people who have been most exposed to air pollution during their childhood tend to have stagnant physical and psychological development in their lives. Specifically, exposure to contaminated air adversely affects a child’s brain development, memory, social interactions, and skills in general. This automatically disadvantages children who grow up in such environments. In addition to children, air pollution can also cause severe damage to pregnant women. Maternal exposure to air pollution can cause miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, etc.
The state of Kosovo has not developed any strategy or action plan to improve air technology in Kosovo. Furthermore, there is no awareness campaigns on how technology can contribute to protecting air and health at the same time, while the Government’s investment in this segment is the very low. Kosovo lacks public awareness on the diseases caused by air pollution, their prevention and treatment. Therefore, KOMF demands that air pollution to be treated urgently and with priority by the future Government of Kosovo. Taking into account the difficult situation in Kosovo with the issue of air pollution, KOMF urges the responsible institutions to implement the following recommendations:
- Develop national strategies for addressing the issue of air pollution;
- Develop data-driven research on the impact of air pollution on health, focusing on children;
- Conduct a health economics analysis for future investments;
- Conduct research on countries with similar problems and adapt effective contextual models;
- Allocate sufficient budget to prevent air pollution in Kosovo;
- Provide accurate data on major air pollutants in Kosovo;
- Determine air pollution meters and make periodic measurements;
- Develop an action plan to plan the improvement of air in Kosovo;
- Provide alternative ways of heating that do not pollute the environment, with low costs for citizens;
- Develop awareness raising campaigns on the harm caused by air pollution, especially on children and protection measures against air pollution;
- Conduct awareness campaigns on banning the use of coal as a winter heat source;
- Develop awareness campaigns for children in schools with the aim of educating them on environmental protection.