Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN) – Air pollution has been identified as the leading cause of mortality and morbidity in Bangladesh, a study said.

“If the exposure to urban air pollution were reduced by 20 per cent to 80 per cent, it would result in saving 1,200 to 3,500 lives annually and avoiding 80 to 230 million cases of disease,” said Country Environmental Assessment (2006) report released recently.

The government of Bangladesh (GOB) and the World Bank (WB) jointly conducted the assessment while government recognized the need to address the problem of urban air pollution because of its wide ranging adverse impacts, a WB information note said in the capital, Dhaka on Monday.

It developed the ‘Clean Air and Sustainable Environment (CASE)’ project with proposed WB financing to facilitate the adoption of sustainable environmental initiatives in the key polluting sectors (urban transport and brick making) with a focus on reducing air pollution and improving safe mobility.

The proposed CASE project aims to demonstrate innovative approaches to addressing the problem rather than the traditional regulatory approach.

“A ‘co-benefits’ approach to help reduce urban air pollution would be demonstrated in the project. This would include mitigation of GHG emissions from key polluting sectors, as well as addressing traffic management and safety issues in the transport sector,” the WB added.

The major two components of the proposed project are environment (which includes addressing brick kiln emissions in Bangladesh); and transport (which includes addressing traffic management and safety issues in Dhaka).

Recently, a WB team conducted an appraisal of the proposed project during which the team and government counterparts reviewed the progress of the project preparation.

The proposed CASE project builds on the experiences and lessons of two past Bank-supported projects in Bangladesh, namely the Air Quality Management Project (AQMP) and the Dhaka Urban Transport Project (DUTP). Both the AQMP and DUTP projects had a major impact on improving Dhaka’s air quality.