The Richards Bay Clean Air Association: A Case Study for Success in Participatory Air Quality Management
Keywords:air quality, industry, government, community, association
Increasing population growth and rapid urbanisation in South Africa’s major centres have resulted in a race for geographical space. The proximity of residential areas to industries is decreasing, and with this, the concern for air quality impacts on people’s health. More stringent regulations and the roll-out of atmospheric emission licenses have attempted to curb this concern, at least from a legislative perspective, by limiting the levels of exposure to potentially harmful pollutants. However, implementation, accountability and active community involvement remain a problem in many areas across the country. Nevertheless, success stories in which public and private entities work together for better air quality management, do exist and offer an opportunity for learning. Established 17 years ago in response to a concern for the health of people living and working in Richards Bay, the Richards Bay Clean Air Association (RBCAA) brings together industry, government and the community with the common goals of improving air quality in the region and encouraging polluters to take responsibility for their actions. The tried and tested formula, and long term success of the RBCAA is a demonstration of the fact that integrated air quality management is not limited to the local authority and is better accomplished as a collective. This paper outlines the strengths and common obstacles faced by the RBCAA, with the goal of showcasing a template for success in unlocking clean air opportunities for all.
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