Authority taking actions to mitigate sound pollution in urban areas

The rising levels of noise pollution in Ethiopia have detrimental effects on the physical and mental well-being of its residents, as well as the overall quality of life. Several factors contribute to the escalating problem of sound pollution in a country. Among these, the city’s population is rapidly increasing, resulting in the proliferation of vehicles, construction activities, and industrialization. The constant blasting of car alarms, blaring music, and the clamor of construction sites combine to create a discordance of noise that permeates the city.

Additionally, the lack of urban planning and inadequate enforcement of noise regulations further exacerbate the problem. Moreover, because the city has densely populated areas, the amplified sounds from religious ceremonies such as mosques, churches, and other places of worship can contribute significantly to sound pollution.

During his conversation with The Ethiopian Herald Focal Person of the Addis Ababa Health Bureau, Anteneh Mitiku, the consequences of sound pollution are far-reaching and affect various aspects of life in a country. The most significant impacts are on public health. Extended exposure to high levels of noise can lead to hearing loss, stress, sleep disturbances, and cardiovascular issues.

He stated that the relentless noise disrupts concentration, communication, and learning, negatively affecting students’ academic performance and productivity in workplaces. Moreover, the continuous noise pollution takes a toll on mental well-being, leading to increased anxiety, irritability, and decreased overall life satisfaction.

Sustained exposure to high noise levels can lead to chronic stress, hypertension, and even heart disease. Children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of noise pollution, as it can hinder their cognitive development and health life, he said.

Furthermore, sound pollution has adverse effects on the environment. It disrupts the natural habitats of wildlife, causing disturbances in their communication and behavior patterns. Additionally, the excessive noise levels can affect the growth and reproductive abilities of plants, leading to ecological imbalances.

According to the Addis Ababa Environmental Protection Authority data, identifying the urgent need to address this issue, the Authority, along with other organization in Addis Ababa, has initiated measures to combat sound pollution. Strict regulations and guidelines relating to noise levels have been put in place, but enforcement remains a challenge.

Head of the Addis Ababa Environment Protection Authority, Dida Diriba, said that sustainable urban planning is crucial in mitigating sound pollution. The construction of noise barriers, green spaces, and pedestrian-friendly zones can help reduce noise levels in densely populated areas. The promotion of public transportation, cycling, and walking can minimize traffic congestion and subsequently decrease noise generated by vehicles.

Additionally, industries and commercial establishments must adopt noise reduction technologies and practices. Encouraging the use of soundproofing materials, implementing noise control measures, and conducting regular monitoring and evaluation can significantly mitigate the impact of sound pollution, he said.

He noted that attempts are being made to resolve issues with the city’s business office in order to streamline operations, as issues arise when allowing nightclubs and hotels to operate in homes, schools, hospitals, and other comparable locations.

According to him, the authority has applied the necessary measures to monitor and resolve approximately 5,000 service-providing and manufacturing companies in six months, out of the 10,000 industries it is expected to monitor in a year. Additionally, he said that the Authority has addressed the 942 complaints that had been summited and continue to toiling to find solutions for additional noise pollution related issues.

Furthermore, sound pollution can have a negative impact on the tourism industry in Addis Ababa. Many tourists visit the city to experience its rich cultural heritage, historical sites, and vibrant markets. However, the constant noise can detract from the overall tourist experience, making it less appealing for visitors seeking tranquility and relaxation. This can lead to a decline in tourism revenue and hamper the growth of the local economy.

Efforts should be made to raise awareness about the health risks and encourage individuals to take necessary precautions, such as using ear protection and seeking quieter areas for rest and relaxation. There is a need for increased awareness and education among the public regarding the detrimental effects of sound pollution and the importance of adhering to noise regulations, Anteneh noted.

Striking a balance between religious practices and minimizing noise levels through the use of appropriate soundproofing and scheduling can help mitigate the impact on surrounding communities, Dida said.

He further stated that the authority has taken action against over 1,220 polluting facilities in the first half of the year as part of its sustained efforts to preserve the aesthetic appeal of the city and to resolve problems that contribute to climate pollution.

A warning, packing, and a fine decision are the actions. He stated that government agencies, hotels, factories, and nightclubs are collaborating to find a solution to the issue.

Incorporating soundproofing measures in the construction of buildings and infrastructure can also contribute to a quieter and more livable cityscape. Additionally, promoting the use of audio materials with permissible level of volume in public spaces, such as schools, hospitals, and recreational areas, can create a more conducive environment for learning, healing, and leisure activities.

Addressing sound pollution requires active community engagement and participation. Residents can play a vital role in reporting noise violations to the authorities and advocating for stricter enforcement of noise regulations. Community-led initiatives, such as neighborhood watch programs and awareness campaigns can help foster a sense of ownership and collective responsibility in reducing sound pollution.

Mitigating sound pollution in a country requires collaboration among various stakeholders, including government agencies, local authorities, urban planners, environmental organizations, and residents. By working together, these stakeholders can develop comprehensive strategies and action plans to tackle the issue effectively. Regular dialogue, information sharing, and monitoring mechanisms can facilitate a coordinated approach to addressing sound pollution.

He stated that the management threatened to suspend the company license and notify the appropriate authorities if the institutions to be sealed failed to resolve the issue within the allotted period. Also, the establishments are run by staff members and offer public services; they ought to abide with the regulations.

He stated that efforts are to fully eliminate nighttime noise pollution. Awareness campaigns are being conducted by schools, religious leaders, and other potentially harmful segments of society due to the proper volume of sound that are heard every day. Also, traffic regulation and management are being focused on as big cars are contributing to noise pollution in places like schools, hospitals, embassies, and condominiums, he added.

By implementing a combination of measures, including stricter regulations, sustainable urban planning, public awareness campaigns, and community participation, the city can take significant strides towards creating a quieter, healthier, and more livable environment for its residents and visitors alike. According to Dida, the Authority collaborates with roughly twenty different entities to address environmental issues.



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