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Exposure and impact of air pollution on the life and livelihoods of the urban population

In recent decades, the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region has been affected by rising emissions of air pollutants from urban, industrial, and rural sources. This has raised concerns about deteriorating air quality, impacts on health, and increasing stratospheric pollution above the Tibetan Plateau, among other issues of significance.


Nanda Devi, ICIMOD, Kathmandu

Date & Time

17 December 2019 to 19 December 2019

Poor air quality, in particular, is a major health concern in South Asia. With rapid urbanization, it has significant consequences for large urban populations in the HKH region. However, the literature on the health impacts of air pollution has generally not focused on why people continue to expose themselves to high levels of air pollution, particularly those working in vulnerable occupations. There is also limited understanding regarding the impact of air pollution at the household level. When a breadwinner working in conditions with heightened exposure to air pollution cannot continue to earn an income, what are the cascading impacts on other family members and their well-being? To delve into this matter, ICIMOD’s Atmosphere Initiative is undertaking a comprehensive study on “Exposure and impact of air pollution on the life and livelihoods of the urban population”. This study will cover three cities in the HKH region: Kathmandu (Nepal), Lahore (Pakistan), and Mandalay (Myanmar).

The study requires a consistent methodology that allows cross-country and cross-sectoral analyses. The methodology needs to capture the temporal and cascading nature of the exposure and impacts of air pollution at the household level. This pre-survey workshop will allow the study team (which comprises members from the social and physical sciences) to acquire a common understanding of the research problem, methodology, data collection, and analysis.

  • Build a common understanding of the research problem and methodology for cross-sectoral and cross-country comparisons of the study findings
  • Enhance the study team’s capacity on interdisciplinary methodology and analytical tools for consistency in data collection
  • Train the enumerators on the measurement of air pollution exposure using suitable equipment
  • Train the enumerators on the life histories method – a qualitative research method from the social sciences – to improve understanding of people’s perceptions of exposure and air pollution impact

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