Nairobi in list of African cities to receive Sh500m to fight air pollution

An aerial view of Nairobi City on September 4, 2023. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Nairobi is among three African cities picked to benefit from the Sh500 million initiative to fight toxic air pollution.

Nairobi has been selected alongside Accra and Johannesburg.

The announcement was made during the COP28 Local Climate Action Summit.

The initiative brings together Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Clean Air Fund, and C40 Cities. The selected African cities are set to benefit from funding, technical support, air quality data, community engagement, capacity building, and additional support in an initiative dubbed Breathe Cities Clean Air.

The initiative aims to reduce air pollution, slash carbon emissions, and enhance public health.

“Toxic air pollution is a dual threat, impacting both the public health of our cities as well as furthering the climate crisis,” said Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London and co-chair of C40 Cities.

“With the right technology, data, and policy, cities can lead the way in cleaning the air. Bloomberg Philanthropies are looking forward to working with these cities to help them implement ambitious solutions that will improve and save lives."

“Empowering cities to tackle air pollution will have a direct impact on public health and well-being and unlock a host of wider economic and environmental benefits,” said Jane Burston, CEO of Clean Air Fund.

The cities will form a pioneering partnership to exchange knowledge and scale local impact.


The participating local governments were chosen based on criteria such as geographic diversity, air pollution and emissions intensity, engaged civil society, strong political interest and leadership, scalability potential, and capacity to implement action plans, among other metrics.

Air pollution is one of the most urgent global issues. Almost no urban area has air quality that meets the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

Forty-one per cent of cities have air pollution over seven times higher than WHO’s recommendation, meaning their residents are breathing dangerously polluted air that can cause health issues such as asthma and respiratory illnesses.

Air pollution is also associated with seven million premature deaths each year.

During the ministerial conference at the Africa Climate Summit held at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi, President William Ruto urged African governments to increase their investments in green opportunities to unlock the continent’s potential.


The president called for investment in renewable energy, green industrialisation, climate-smart agriculture, and nature conservation.

He said this would accelerate global decarbonisation, fuel sustainable development, drive economic growth, and create millions of jobs.

“We must see in green growth not just a climate imperative but also a fountain of multi-billion-dollar economic opportunities that Africa and the world are primed to capitalise on,” he said.

C40 Cities is a global network of nearly 100 mayors committed to confronting the climate crisis. They aim to cut emissions by half by 2030, limit global heating to 1.5°C, and build resilient communities through innovation, equitable programs, and international advocacy.

The network's main priority is to phase out fossil fuels, a crucial step in achieving the 1.5°C target.

The operationalisation of the Loss and Damage Fund marks a pivotal breakthrough, acknowledging that vulnerable countries suffer the brunt of climate impacts despite contributing the least to the crisis.