By Vivian Onyebukwa

To mark this year’s Air Quality Awareness Week, the Air Quality Monitoring Research Group (AQMRG), University of Lagos, visited Ago-Egun, Bariga, Lagos community to create awareness on air quality.
Air quality awareness week is an annual event marked the whole world.
The were led by the Lead, Air Quality Monitoring Research Group, University of Lagos, Dr Rose Alani.
Ago-Egun community is noted for fish smoking which necessitated the visit, to create awareness about the inherent danger posed by smoke. “Wild fire and smoke can cause sickness. If you keep on inhaling it and it becomes too much in your body, it can cause sickness”, Dr Alani said.

Dr Alani, who is also an Associate Professor of University of Lagos, Department of Chemistry, further explained that the situation is worse with children because as babies their body systems are not developed to fight sickness.
She then advised the women not to tie their babies at the back while smoking the fish.
Dr Alani expressed optimism that the community will adhere strictly to the precautions shared with them as it has to do with life. “When you are talking about life, it is something that people don’t play with. So it is something that is going to affect their lives and health, and we have touched some experiences they have been having, like itching of eyes, other eye problems, and so on. I think they will be conscious. Some of those experiences they have been having, they actually do not know why. I believe, now that they are aware, they will be cautious also with some steps within their own ability”.
Accessing the Ago-Egun environment Dr Alani said, “It is really sad especially during rainy season like today. We all had to swim in the water for us to get here. It is a pathetic situation, and I m very happy also that we have captured this with the media and we are going to report it, so that many people that does not know that this kind of experience exist, will also know. This is environmental justice we are talking about. It is a pathetic case. It is a case that needs to be taken as priority”.

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Dr John Walter, also of the University of Lagos and member of the team, stated the community’s demand from the State government. “They are asking for an alternative method of drying fish, and I promise that it has been put into account. We are going to push for the State government to create an insinuator point where the community members will be drying their fish which, will reduce emission at least by 70 percent. This we have taken account for. The community also requested for clean water and electricity”.
Dr Walter explained that the Air Quality Monitoring Research Group (AQMRG)), choose the Ago- Egun community in Bariga because they are the major contributor of air pollution in the sense that their day to day activities affects the air qualities of Bariga and its environs.
He generally advised them to try using alternative source of energy which, will actually improve the air quality in their locality. Continuing Dr Walter said, “Also try to reduce the emission as much as possible, dispose your waste very well. Don’t encourage open burning. With this the air quality of each locality will be safe for all, because when a particular environment is polluted, definitely it will impact on the general environment”.

The Bale of Ago-Egun community, Akapo Aremo, while appreciating the group, appealed to Lagos State government to come to their aid in providing more schools, water, light, and drainage for them. He equally requested for an alternative way of smoking fish, pleading that while making the alternative way, it should be such that the space is closer to the community.
Lamenting, the Bale said, “The government has been promising us. They have been coming, but they have not done anything, rather, they asked us to be developing it by ourselves, so this is the limit that we can go. It is only light they have been able to do out of all the promises by the politicians when they came to do campaigns. They also did water, but because the land is not good for a portable water, they did one and they could not come back again”.
He equally expressed worries that if the government will have to do the drainage, it will amount to breaking down some buildings, which he said will pose another challenge.

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