World Bank lends $50.8 mln to cut air pollution in Bosnian region

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SARAJEVO (Reuters) – The World Bank has approved a 46.1 million euro ($50.8 million) loan to help Bosnia’s autonomous Bosniak-Croat Federation tackle alarming air pollution and its health and economic consequences, the bank said.

Bosnia and its capital Sarajevo in particular suffer from notorious air pollution, topping lists of the world’s most polluted cities in winter months and affecting public health.

The Balkan country has among the highest levels of fine particular matter (PM2.5) pollution in Europe, to which the residential burning of solid fuel and the transport sector contribute about 50% and 20% respectively, the bank said.

The bank said it aims to support four out of 10 cantons in the federation in strengthening air quality management mechanisms and institutions, and implementing measures to reduce emissions.

The support will be coupled with direct investments in domestic heating and transport to help achieve a reduction of 19,000 tons of local PM2.5 emissions, including energy efficiency measures in single-family households, expanding cycling infrastructure, and supporting low emission zones.

“This project will contribute to the well-being of the population and to overall environmental sustainability,” Christopher Sheldon, the bank’s country manager for Bosnia and Montenegro, said in a statement.

“The clean investments made in energy and transport will not only reduce air pollutant emissions but also deliver additional benefits such as greenhouse gas emission reduction, energy savings, improved living conditions and job creation,” Sheldon added.

Exposure to fine particulate matter poses serious health risks, leading to respiratory infections, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and premature deaths.

The loan has a final maturity of 31.5 years including a grace period of eight years.

($1 = 0.9084 euros)

Photo – A general view of the surroundings of the city of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sarajevo is one of the most polluted cities in the world. EPA-EFE/FEHIM DEMIR

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