WASHINGTON, November 29, 2023 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved today $50 million for the Kyrgyz Republic Air Quality Improvement Project to help the country reduce its air pollution and the adverse effects it has on public health and the economy.
Air pollution is the leading environmental risk to health and cost the globe an estimated $8.1 trillion in 2019, equivalent to 6.1 percent of global GDP. Exposure to fine inhalable particles (PM2.5 with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less) poses serious health risks, leading to respiratory infections, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and premature deaths. In Bishkek, the average annual PM2.5 concentrations in 2022 surpassed the World Health Organization’s guideline value of 5 µg/m3 by nearly sevenfold. During the last several winters, average daily concentrations of PM2.5 were often above 200 µg/m3, surpassing the WHO guideline of 15 µg/m3 more than 13 times and placing Bishkek among the world’s most polluted cities. The main sources of air pollution in Kyrgyz capital include the use of coal for residential heating, emisions from the vehicles, and windblown dust coming from outside the city. Together, these sources contribute to over 75 percent of the city's annual average ambient PM2.5 concentrations.
“Managing air quality is a daunting challenge that requires a comprehensive approach across national and city authorities, stakeholders, and development partners. By reducing air pollution, the country will not only improve its air quality but also will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and pivot towards a green economy,” said World Bank Country Manager for the Kyrgyz Republic Naveed Hassan Naqvi.
The Kyrgyz Republic Air Quality Improvement Project aims to strengthen the capacity of the Kyrgyz Republic to manage air quality and to reduce emissions of PM2.5 and greenhouse gases in Bishkek. The project will directly benefit the residents of Bishkek by improving air quality. In a broader context, the population of the Kyrgyz Republic will also benefit from the project, as the establishment of a sound Air Quality Management System will drive policy actions for air quality improvement, aiming to mitigate the impact of air pollution on public health and economic development.
The project has been designed using a programmatic approach, allowing activities to be scaled up and replicated when additional financing becomes available by the World Bank or other development partners.
The project focuses on a number of key areas of intervention, including:
- Strengthening air quality management systems by improving ambient air quality data collection and analysis, enhancing the air quality management and pollution control functions, building capacity of relevant environmental and technical inspection departments, as well as strengthening cross-sectoral coordination mechanisms.
- Supporting adoption of clean heating solutions through sub-loans to households for switching to clean heating systems. The project will further support development of a sustainable heating strategy for the country, elaborate a support mechanism for low-income families of Bishkek to replace coal with clean heating systems, and introduce quality assurance systems for the clean heating equipment.
- Urban greening through a pilot green belt, specifically designed for reducing air pollution, and investments in the urban irrigation system.
The financing for the Kyrgyz Republic Air Quality Improvement Project is provided through the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s concessional lending arm, in the form of a zero-interest credit, with repayments spread out over 50 years and a 10-year grace period. The project will be implemented through December 2030 by the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ecology, and Technical Supervision and the Ministry of Finance, in close cooperation with the relevant government bodies, Hydrometeorological Service (Kyrgyzhydromet) under the Ministry of Emergency Situations, Bishkek Municipality, commercial banks, and other key stakeholders. Strict international standards including procurement and financial management regulations and anti-corruption guidelines will be enforced.
The World Bank’s overall mission is to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity on a livable planet. The World Bank’s program in the Kyrgyz Republic currently consists of 22 projects supporting the modernization and development of various sectors, with commitments of $1.05 billion.