Human health, agriculture, policy and SDGs – Using air pollution as a focus for Interdisciplinary Research collaborations in Africa (ASAFIR)

Burning sheathed cables to recover copper at the Agbogbloshie, Accra, Ghana. Muntaka Chasant [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]

Burning sheathed cables to recover copper at the Agbogbloshie e-waste landfill near the center of Accra, Ghana's capital city. Photo: Muntaka Chasant [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]

To tackle environmental challenges requires a thorough understanding of the natural, social, economic and political systems that are i. the cause of environmental degradation; ii. that lead to exacerbation of degradation effects and iii. try to alleviate the worst impacts of degradation. Air pollution is an environmental challenge that is currently high on the political agenda in both developed and developing countries, air pollution impacts a variety of physical systems including human health and agriculture and requires strong interdisciplinary collaborations across social, economic and political systems to identify workable solutions to the air pollution problem. This project explores the potential for future interdisciplinary research to tackle such complex environmental challenges, using air pollution as a focus around which to explore new collaborations and research opportunities that will ultimately support progress towards the SDGs for countries across Africa.

For example, for human health we could explore how health care systems, provision and access might influence premature mortality from air pollution. For agriculture we could explore emissions (both GHG and air pollution) and impacts (both air pollution and climate change) on agriculture, and how these might be influenced by agricultural management practices. For policy, we could explore both mitigation and adaptation options and their development and implementation (in areas such as energy provision, supply and transition; barriers to implementation of identified interventions and mechanisms by which interventions can be co-developed with local communities, local government etc....). The focus of the work will initially be on the systems that influence air pollution and its impact, but in the future, will address a whole suite of sustainable development challenges important in the wider African context. The aim will be to develop research collaborations between the University of York and colleagues working in Africa.

The aim of the project was to establish long-lasting collaborative research partnerships that will:

  1. Strengthen the interdisciplinary and problem-focused infrastructure within the University of York; in particular bringing three York institutes (SEI, YESI and IGDC) together to work on the SDG-related challenge of air pollution;
  2. Build capacity in Early Career Researchers (ECRs) within an interdisciplinary research structure;
  3. Deepen our emerging research partnerships with Ghana and strengthen our research profile in and on West Africa; and
  4. Enhance the capacity of stakeholders in Ghana to develop coherent policy to address environment and development challenges.

Funding for this project was been made available through the University of York.


Prof Lisa Emberson




African Partners 

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