Air and water pollution is a major environmental problem in CAR. Annual outdoor PM2.5 levels in CAR can reach 57 µg / m3, which exceeds the recommended maximum of 10ug / m3, especially in urban centers like Bangui [1]. In addition, the majority of the Central African population is regularly exposed to dangerous levels of indoor air pollution since more than 90% of the population uses woody biomass for cooking. Ambient and domestic air pollution causes an estimate of approximately 5,083 deaths per year in the CAR [2]. These impacts are intensified by levels of air pollution that exceed the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO), which poses a threat to the health of the population, especially in Bangui, as well as to the large rural population that depends mainly on energy from solid biomass such as wood for cooking fuel [3].

High rates of water pollution are also a significant public health burden in the CAR. Malaria is one of the main causes of morbidity and mortality in the country and it is expected to spread in terms of seasonality and geography. In addition, there is no modern health structure outside of Bangui, which itself has only one large hospital [4].

The environmental risks to health in the CAR constitute the main cost of environmental degradation with an unsanitary water supply, lack of access to sanitation and poor hygiene. The costs are estimated at US $ 64 million per year, with indoor air pollution causing additional cost of US $ 29 million per year [5].


Contributors to environmental pollution in the CAR include waste, mining, forestry, energy, agriculture and land use. Poor outdoor air quality in the CAR is due to vehicle emissions, waste combustion, gold and diamond mining, and the sugar refining industry. The use of wood and charcoal for cooking is a major source of indoor air pollution and contributes to the high indoor pollution  (PM10 and PM2.5 ) in CAR. Agricultural and mining activities, as well as poor land and wastewater management are the main polluters of the country's water bodies.

The destruction of forests also causes significant environmental pollution. The mining sector, both industrial and artisanal, cause serious and widely dispersed environmental degradation, affecting the quality of air, water and soil in the country.


Key policies and governance approach

The CAR has ratified the Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD), the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol. The CAR ratified the Paris Agreement in 2016. Thus, like most African countries, the CAR is implementing the United Nations Framework Agreement on Climate Change. The CAR has two main laws relating to climate change mitigation and adaptation: Law No. 08-18 on biofuels and Law No. 08.222 on the forestry code [4]. A National Climate Coordination (CNC) was created for the organization and functioning of the national climate coordination in the Central African Republic. The CNC is placed under the supervision of the Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development (MEDD). The main missions of the CNC are the development and strategic orientation of national climate change policy and initiatives.


Successes and remaining challenges

Due to the country's long history of conflict and weak institutions, infrastructure and the provision of basic services including water supply and preservation of healthy environment in urban and rural areas remain major challenges for CAR.


Initiatives and Development Plans

The Central African Republic joined the Climate and Clean Air Coalition in 2013 to contribute to the international efforts to reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (SLCPS). CAR recognizes the dangers of climate change and air pollution to its people and economy and has worked extensively with the Coalition's National Planning Support Initiative (SNAP) since 2018 to establish inventories of integrated emissions and increase the ability to mitigate SLCP. This work paves the way for informed policy development and emission reduction strategies that will ultimately translate into direct benefits to the country, such as improved health and economic growth [3].

The country is also involved in the Coalition's Municipal Solid Waste Management Initiative and seeks to address other key sources of SLCP emissions, including forest and bush fires, burning of farm openings and cooling  [3].


Goals and Ambitions

Given the significant public health burden of environmental pollution in the CAR, air and water quality and improved sanitation should be key focus areas in promoting public health measures in the country.


  • Poor water and air quality increase exposure of vulnerable groups, sanitation and vector-borne diseases in the country. The pollution problem in CAR requires not only continued investment and focus on its related health issues, but also full integration of  pollution indicator and monitoring into the CAR’s environmental management and strengthen of the healthcare services.
  • The government should undertake a pollution and risk assessment regarding the impacts of  environmental pollution. Investments should also be made into data collection and database development in support of epidemiological tracking of risks and to implement appropriate measures for surveillance and monitoring of pollution in CAR.