Digital transformation and a cleaner air in Ethiopia

The World Athletics Clean Air Programme is aiming to improve the conditions in which elite and amateur athletes train and compete, by partnering with global organizations leaders in Sustainability like UNEP, and in Air Quality research and management like IDAEA-CSIC and the ISGlobal; to create a global network of Air Quality monitoring stations located primarily in Stadiums and urban race-tracks all over the world.


In the summer of 2018, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s largest city with 3.4 million inhabitants, was in full swing in terms of its population, household income and economy and with its air pollution.

From a social sustainability dimension, athletics was a way of making a living in Ethiopia, with elite athletes such as Kenenisa Bekel (2:01:41 in the Berlin Marathon) or Haile Gebrselassie (27 world records) dedicating their lives to the competition.

The few studies conducted have consistently shown that average PM2.5 concentrations in Ethiopia were as high as 280 µg/m3 in 24-hour measurements.

There was therefore an urgent need for more evidence-based research on the potential adverse consequences of exposure to air pollutants during exercise, including decreased lung function and exacerbation of asthma and exercise-induced bronchoconstriction.


Supply and installation on demand of Kunak AIR equipment with GPRS for the monitoring of pollutant gas and particle parameters, as well as wind speed and direction.

The Ethiopian Athletics Federation took up the challenge and made it possible on 1 November 2018, in the presence of Halei Gebrselassie and Stéphane Bermon, by installing the first Kunak AIR air quality stations at the National Stadium, located in the centre of Addis Ababa and another at the EPA headquarters in Addis Ababa.

Additional stations were deployed in late 2019 by UNEP together with the Addis Ababa EPA.

Completed actions

  • Deployment of a sensor network with embedded wireless communications.
  • Periodic reporting of the data obtained.
  • Integration of data into UNEP’s IQair platform


  • To offer a systemic approach to Sustainable Digital Development.
  • To understand the impact of traffic and nearby industries on air quality.
  • Increase knowledge about possible sources of emissions and their impact.
  • Remote management and calibration of the sensor network.
  • Development of policies and use of new digital tools to facilitate the development of a new industrial and commercial sector to support new digital activities.
  • The exploitation of existing data and technology.