Teacher Training Workshop on Geosciences, Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation in Rwanda.

The UR Center of Excellence in Biodiversity and Natural Resources Management (CoEB)facilitated a training workshop to Teachers of Secondary Schools in Rwanda to enhance their capacity in Geosciences and teaching hands-on. Funded by UNESCO, the workshop gathered around 35 participants composed of teachers of Secondary Schools in Rwanda, presenters from Local Institutions that are working in Biodiversity Conservation and Natural Resources Management area and a trainer from Keel University, United Kingdom. The main topics include Biodiversity and Environmental Resources Management and Geosciences and teaching hands-on science education.

Prof. Beth Kaplin, Acting Director of CoEB officially opened the workshop and thanked participants for having honored the invitation. She particularly thanked teachers of secondary Schools for their crucial role of training the youth which are future teachers of Rwanda and the world in general. “We are trying to build capacity of you teachers of the nation and its neighbors in Biodiversity and Natural Resources to give you important skills and connections for Science Education”, said Prof. Beth. She also recalled the mission of the UR Center of Excellence in Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management (CoEB) to enhance the knowledge of biodiversity and Natural Resource management for sustainable development.

Chris King, Emeritus Professor of Earth Science Education at Keel University, United Kingdom focused on hands on experiments fostering deep understanding through the use of geosciences investigations and experiments. He also gave an overview on Geoscience and teaching hands-on Science Education sharing his experience on the importance of hands-on teaching.
The main activities of the workshop include presentations by UR lecturers and partners from different institutions working in the area of Biodiversity and Natural Resources Environment.

Can it be Christmas every day? The ambient air quality on Christmas day was typically very good in Kigali city, Rwanda.

Air pollution is the most significant environmental threat to human health globally and contributes directly to climate change. A recent World Health Organization (WHO) air quality (AQ) assessment confirms that 92% of the world’s population lives in places where air pollution levels exceed WHO limits resulting in the deaths of 7 million people every year. Moreover, nearly 90% of air-pollution-related deaths occur in low and middle-income countries. Despite the associated health risks, AQ programs, particularly in East African countries, have stalled or been discontinued in recent years. The main problems are the severe lack of knowledge on air pollution sciences and inadequate funding to install AQ monitoring stations. As a result, AQ monitoring is limited across the region and many countries in Africa lack AQ standards.

Every year on 25th December, Rwanda like other West countries celebrate Christmas. Some West and few African countries celebrate this festival by burning firecrackers and fireworks in addition to the massive population in the shopping centers searching Christmas presents and busier roads with delivery diesel powered vans and vehicles, which release gaseous air pollutants (nitrogen dioxide) and various sized particulate matters that lead to extreme peaks in air pollution concentrations. These emissions are associated with negative impacts on human health and reduce visibility. While in Holiday, Egide Kalisa found that the human activities were overall reduced around Kigali because with many people staying at home and fewer vehicles on the road. He was therefore interested to know the status of ambient air pollution during the period of Christmas and New Year from 25th December 2017 to 1st January 2018. Around Kigali city, Kalisa has been measuring key air pollutants, particulate matters PM2.5 (particles less than 2.5 μm in diameter) that can enter the lungs and PM10 (particles less than 10 μm in diameter) that are trapped in the nasopharyngeal tract.

Egide Kalisa, 27, is conductingresearch on urban air pollution in Rwanda on Christmas 2017

Samples of PM2.5 and PM10 were collected every day in eight locations around Kigali city using an ultra-portable handheld monitor Aeroqual Series 500 and Air visual node AQ analyzer, enabling accurate real-time surveying and data logging of common outdoor air pollutants. These are standard techniques to measure concentrations of PM, which has the greatest health impact of any air pollutant in Rwanda. The low-cost sensor measure PM in the two size fractions (PM2.5 and PM10) that are epidemiologically important and therefore subject to WHO limits set at 25 µgm-3, 24-hour mean for PM2.5 and 50 µgm-3, 24-hour mean for PM10

Whilst ambient air quality may be very poor on Christmas in some cities, in Kigali the ambient air quality on Christmas day was typically very good. The average levels of PM10 and PM2.5 measured around Kigali city on Christmas was substantial low throughout Monday for seven out of eight sampling sites and below the global median of the WHO ambient air quality guidelines (Fig. 1&2). This is due to reduced overall city activity because with many people staying at home and fewer vehicles on the road (Fig.3).

Fig.1 average concentration of PM2.5 recorded around Kigali city from Christmas 25th Dec 2017 to New Year 01st Jan 2018.

Fig.2 average concentration of PM10recorded around Kigali city from Christmas 25th Dec 2017 to New Year 01st Jan 2018.

The highest average concentrations of PM2.5 and PM10 were recorded at CHUK (67 μg/ m3, 38 μg/m3), respectively.The highest concentration recorded at CHUK on Christmas can be attributed to congestion of motor vehicles where many drivers idle their cars while waiting in for the passengers coming from Hospitals. The practice of idling contributes to poor air quality and global warming, damages a vehicle’s engine, and natural resources. Further, CHUK is located nearby Gitega sector (Nyamirambo) where emissions from biomass burning are expected to contribute to the level of particulate matter. After Christmas, the air pollution concentration rose through the following days at all sites and the peaks were observed on 30th and 31st December 2017. This is due to the increased human activities around the city with a lot of vehicle traffic in the shopping centers searching Christmas presents, and buying food, clothes, and others for new year celebration. Further, the highest concentration of PM recorded on 31st December 2017 at 2 pm can be attributed to the low temperatures, lights winds, and high moisture levels that cause the pollutant particles to be suspended very close to the surface.

Fig 3. Comparisons of visibility and average concentration of PM2.5 and PM10recorded at Kigali main road (KN3 RD) on 25th Dec 2017, 1st Jan 2018 and 3rd Jan 2018.

Vehicle emissions was found to be major contributors of PM2.5 and PM10in Kigali city. We need to conserve environment and reduce emissions of pollutants; by purchasing efficient, low polluting models of a car, truck or a van. People in Kigali should wisely use and maintain their cars properly, because well and properly maintained cars are likely to emit less pollution into atmosphere than a similar poorly maintained car. Smoking vehicles should be banned to be driven in the Kigali city, and people should be encouraged to use public transport to reduce the number of vehicles on the road. Furthermore, the government should take necessary measures to improve the public transport (promote walking and cycling) in the city and Strict regulations on importation of used vehicles.

Egide Kalisa received a First-class honours B.S degree in Botany and Conservation from the National University of Rwanda, an M.S. in Air Pollution Management and Control from the University of Birmingham, UK. By age of 25, As a Ph.D. student, He was awarded the Scholarship, which allowed him to conduct research at the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. Today, He is conducting the research in Rwanda, New Zealand and Japan on ambient air pollution that will help country’s government combat air pollution.Around Kigali city and Musanze district, Kalisa has been measuring key air pollutants PM2.5 and PM10, and testing them for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and their nitrated derivatives (NPAHs), which are one of the most studied families of organic compounds, given their proven carcinogenic effects on humans. His research interests include atmospheric pollution, aerobiology, climate change, biodiversity & conservation and Health effect of air pollution.

More photos:

Prof. Bonfils Safari presentation on Climate and atmospheric Science in Rwanda

Dr Brigitte Nyirambangutse presentation on biodiversity, ecosystem services and biodiversity conservation

Dr Donat Nsabimana presentation on Climate Change

Kitabi College of Conservation & Environment Management representative presenting on wetlands

Dr. Marie Christine Gasingirwa, DG Science, Technology & Research MINEDUC awarding certificate to a teacher after evaluation

Participants pause for a group photo

Story by:

Renee Nshimiye

UR Public Relations & Communications

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