Ethiopia is going a step further to improve the performance of its athletes by investing in air quality.

The eastern Africa nation, renowned in world sports for producing some of the best marathoners is now joining regional competitors Kenya and Uganda in investing in air monitoring. Other countries that are leading in the same cause are Senegal, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tanzania.

The country’s first air sensor has been installed at the Ethiopian Youth Sports Academy (EYSPA) grounds in Addis Ababa, on the margins of the 2023 Annual Congress of East Africa Athletics Region hosted by the Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF).

“Our athletes need to be supported by our air quality program otherwise without a healthy environment, their health will be affected,” Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) president Hamad Kalkaba Malboum told Quartz.

The installation was coordinated by the Ethiopian Athletics Federation (EAF), the United Nations Environment Program Regional Office for Africa (UNEP ROA), Athletics Kenya (AK), and the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) Africa Centre.

Air quality and sports

The sensor will collect data on carbon emissions, dangerous gases such as ozone and nitrogen oxide and send it to a central data analysis point. The data, stored on UN cloud, will be used to inform decisions on the best training time at the tracks and measures to reduce air impurities.

Jackson Tuwei, AK president told Quartz the air quality sensor “will go a long way in ensuring that the long term health interest of our athletes and the society in general are taken care of by all concerned parties.”

The African Union plans to develop an Africa clean air program where all African stadiums and sports facilities will have sensors that monitor the quality of air for athletes.

“Air pollution is associated with over a million premature deaths per year in Africa, which occur due to people being exposed to harmful pollutants both indoors and outdoors. Africa faces a double burden of worsening air quality, and climate vulnerability, which affects all sectors, including sports,” Philip Osano, SEI Africa director told Quartz.

Addis Ababa now joins 6,000 other cities across 117 countries around the world that the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates are investing in monitoring air quality at sporting events. –

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