Anti-pollution campaign launched

Benin’s environment and urbanisation ministry has begun a one-week sensitisation campaign across the country to raise awareness about rising pollution in this small West African country.

The campaign is intended to educate the population about the direct link between health and a polluted atmosphere after environmental specialists said the air around Benin's economic hub, Cotonou, the capital, Porto Novo and other cities, had over the last five years become more polluted.

According to the specialists, the increasing pollution had resulted from an increasing number of motor vehicles, the continued use of lead in fuel products as well as the poor quality of the products, a growing urban population and the poor state of roads in Benin.

Moustapha Alamou, who spent two years studying pollution through gas emissions by taxis in Cotonou, said residents of the city face increasing risks of respiratory and skin-related ailments, cataract and other eye diseases due to continuous exposure to the emissions.

Speaking at the launch of the campaign on Monday, Alamou warned that he had found traces of lead in the lungs and blood of people he was studying.

Various activities are being conducted during the campaign. These include information sessions, pamphlets distribution and free gas emission checks on cars, trucks and other motor vehicles.

Wedged between Nigeria and Togo with a 150 km coastline, Benin has just over six million people, of whom nearly 40 percent live in urban areas mostly in the south. Its economy is largely dependant on agriculture, according to the World Bank.