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USAID Expands Pollution Prevention Efforts

On February 6, USAID issued a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) seeking opportunities to collaborate on pollution prevention and mitigation. This is the first time they have issued such a BAA regarding pollution. It represents a welcome change signaling the success of our combined efforts to bring pollution to the forefront of global issues that need urgent attention. On February 10, an addendum was issued for air pollution, and we hope to see more.

“Five years ago, if you were searching for grants to fund global pollution reduction work, nothing would come up,” recalls Rachael Kupka, Acting Executive Director, GAHP.

“Funders were not convinced. They would say to us, show me how children and women are dying from pollution. So we did,” says Kupka.

Over the past ten years, with the help of partners and supporters, GAHP has made the case and produced data that has confirmed the impact of pollution, not only on human health, but also on the global economy. In addition, the data has spotlighted how pollution is connected to a wide range of global issues, from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) to climate change to women’s rights. This is reflected in the BAA, which cites data from the Lancet Commission on Pollution and Health, which GAHP initiated, and other research.

Now that USAID has taken the lead, we hope to see other agencies and funders follow suit, especially since the paper “Rethinking Aid Allocation: Analysis of Official Development Spending on Modern Pollution Reduction,” authored by GAHP researchers, has exposed the wide disparity in aid allocation, with pollution receiving little to no funding compared to other major public health crises. 

USAID’s vote of confidence in issuing this BAA confirms that pollution control needs to be a core part of a country’s development strategy, not just addressed as a side issue.

Pollution is the largest environmental risk factor of disease and premature death in the world today. Diseases caused by pollution are responsible for an estimated 8.3 million premature deaths with nearly 92% of pollution-related deaths occurring in LMICs. Human welfare losses due to pollution are more than $4.6 trillion USD per year, which is equivalent to 6.2% of global GDP.

Pollution is a known driver of social inequality, including gender inequality, since environmental burdens like toxic industries are often situated in socially disadvantaged communities. Pollution prevention and reduction are critical to sustainable development by reducing the burden of disease, enhancing ecosystem services, improving quality of lives (especially women and children), and avoiding income and productivity losses.

— USAID BAA for Pollution Prevention & Mitigation.

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