Volunteering with SOS-UK and tackling air inequality in Ghana
Collins has been involved with a range of SOS-UK projects whilst completing his PhD in Environmental Technology at the Cranfield University. Alongside completing his PhD, and supporting SOS-UK projects, Collins is the lead at Clean Air One Atmosphere, a Ghanaian based not-for-profit using citizen science approach to create awareness on air pollution and its adverse effects. He aspires to become an Air Pollution Analyst tackling air inequality in Sub-Saharan and wider Africa.
Collins shares his experience of taking part in SOS-UK projects and how learnings from this has encouraged him to involve students in the work of Clean Air One Atmosphere.
Motivations, experience and learnings
As someone coming from a background with poor leadership, my utmost goal is to use every means possible to lead in a better way. This is not limited to public health protection and environmental sustainability but also to develop synergies that can help others specifically those from my jurisdiction [often with limited information of pressing environmental challenges namely climate change; air, water and soil pollution]. I believe information spurs action of which knowledge on environmental challenges can be a tool to influence behavioural changes.
My experience with SOS-UK has been great! I wish and look forward to some form of continuity! It was great being part of the Cranfield Team that undertook an environmental/ Green Impact audit, and Student Switch Off activities. This was practical; hands on the job and being paid for some opportunities while developing new skills i.e. environmental audit. The approach and working in a team of experts, as well as students with different backgrounds, keen on making the environment conducive for all was great!
The key issue is the organization of SOS-UK! If we are to lead or direct this environmental boat safely to shore, we need to involve the change-makers! The leaders of tomorrow; by getting students involved, SOS-UK is embarking on a generational change by which the current leadership is challenged to develop protocols that will suit the green revolution. Again, these students being part of this change will ensure continuity as they will not be left out in the processes of development and implementation as well as an evaluation! Being part of SOS-UK has taught me much from being an environmental auditor and a student auditor which I recently took part in virtually. It was great being a student and concurrently applying skills on another student project. The virtual audit I did with one other student on student projects from Worcester University was great and I am excited about what other students across the UK are involved in.
Looking to the future
I have also adopted the SOS-UK student approach to establish Clean Air One Atmosphere Clubs in public universities in Ghana. At Clean Air One Atmosphere we are a team of 3 (myself, Anthony Kporsu and Kenneth Kwakye-Gyamfi) using citizen science to revolutionise air quality monitoring with low-cost sensors to influence behavioural changes to reduce air pollution drastically and protect human health. We have launched a pilot mobile application Yakokoe which runs on android devices and populates open-source data from Purpleair sensors deployed in all parts of Africa to create awareness on air pollution and its human health effect. You have to know where you are exposed to reduce exposure! The setback, however, is funding and combining this with my studies was challenging. I am however keen on developing synergies specifically design partnership projects with funding from the advanced countries to promote our work and sustain the environment. I will be happy if we can leverage on my work with SOS-UK for our projects in Ghana and wider Africa.