Skip to Content

Draft strategy for addressing air pollution in dense low-income communities approved by Cabinet

06 July 2016

The Cabinet has approved the draft Strategy for Addressing Air Pollution in Dense Low-Income Communities of South Africa, which has subsequently been published in Government Gazette No. 40088 (notice 356 of 2016) for public comment.

The strategy seeks to provide a dedicated, focused approach to deal with high levels of pollution in some of the densely populated low-income communities.  This will support the suite of existing instruments to reduce air pollution in the country, which include emissions standards set in terms of the Air Quality Act to control industrial emissions, alternative energy strategies implemented by Department of Energy, air quality offsets implemented by industries etc.

Past and present air quality monitoring data has shown that air quality in various South African communities is not in compliance with National Ambient Air Quality Standards. This means that people living in those communities are not enjoying their Constitutional right to air that is not harmful to health and well-being. For most of these areas, air quality standards are usually exceeded during winter months as more people start burning fossil fuels to warm their homes.

The burning of fossil fuels (dirty fuels), in particular coal, wood and paraffin for cooking and heating in the homes, is one of the contributors to poor air. Fossil fuel burning contributes to emissions that pollute the air at the breathing zone and therefore results in adverse health impacts for both adults and children. Those with pre-existing respiratory disorders such as asthma and cancer are worst affected.

The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has drafted a comprehensive, coordinated and coherent Strategy to tackle this problem.  This is to ensure that ambient air quality in dense low-income communities is in compliance with National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

The aim of draft Strategy is to provide a coordinated approach in implementation of interventions aimed at reducing pollution associated with the burning of “dirty fuels” by low income households. Coordination is required because several organisations have a role to play in reducing emissions from household fuel burning. These includes the Departments of Environmental Affairs, Energy, Human Settlements, Health and Science and Technology, as well as provincial departments, municipalities, industry, Non-Governmental and Community-Based Organisations.

The strategy seeks to ensure that the following goals are achieved by 2030:

  1. Ensure that efforts to address air pollution in dense low- income settlements are undertaken in a coordinated and coherent manner by the soon-to-be-established National Coordinating Committee (NCC) on Residential Air Pollution.
  2. Facilitate, through the forum, the implementation of interventions aimed at reducing emissions from dense low-income settlements through the provision of affordable or subsidised clean energy alternatives.
  3. Ensure continued monitoring, evaluation and reporting on the successes and failures of the proposed interventions and on air quality improvements.

During the commenting period, the Department of Environmental Affairs will host roadshows in some of the affected communities.

It is expected that the roadshows will be hosted in following municipalities: City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality, Fezile Dabi Municipality and Emalahleni Municipality. These municipalities were selected based on the extent of dirty fuel use in the area, ambient air quality conditions and the density of the population. The exact date and location of the roadshows will be communicated in due course.

Members of the public are invited to submit to the Minister by 23 August 2016, written representations on, or objections to the draft Strategy for Addressing Air Pollution in Dense Low-Income Communities of South Africa to the following addresses:

By post to:

The Director-General: Department of Environmental Affairs
Attention: Adv Avhantodi Munyai
Private Bag X447

Hand delivered to: 

Environment House (reception)
473 Steve Biko Street
Arcadia, Pretoria

By e-mail to:

Any inquiries in connection with the draft strategy can be directed to:

Ms Elizabeth Masekoameng
Tel: +27 12 399 9202/1 or

Adv Avhantodi Munyai
Tel: +27 12 399 9211.

Comments received after the closing date may not be considered.

 » Download the startegy

For media inquiries contact:
Albi Modise
Cell: 083 490 2871