USAID-Funded Building Healthy Cities Project Releases Findings from a Community-Led Study on Air Quality in Indore, India

September 19th, 2022 | press-release


The Building Healthy Cities (BHC) project led a study in Indore, India to assess opportunities for community participation in measuring and identifying main sources of air pollution and mitigation measures using local data from low-cost air quality sensors (LCSs). This work is increasingly urgent as the evidence demonstrates significant consequences of air pollution on maternal health outcomes, including low birth-weight and stillbirths. Data for this mixed-method participatory research study were collected between March 2021 and March 2022. The results, including recommendations for other cities considering air quality improvement initiatives, are now available on the project’s website.

The study focused on 19 sites including residential, industrial, commercial, and traffic locations. BHC procured an LCS and trained a local volunteer to be a clean air guide (CAG) for each site. CAGs maintain and read the LCS, educate the community, and organize and support advocacy efforts.

The quantitative data collected through this study include community surveys and air quality data from the sensors. The qualitative data include group discussions with community members, in-depth interviews of individuals including city officers and service managers, and information collected through journey maps. Major findings:
• Participating communities were interested in and accepted the sensors and the CAGs, particularly in the residential areas.
• CAGs and citizens gained knowledge about air pollution and air quality in their neighborhoods.
• Over half the respondents noted an increase in efforts to control air pollution since the start of the study.
• While LCS can be lead to better understanding of air quality patterns, it cannot identify a specific causal link between a particular source and the air quality.
• The air quality data, along with the qualitative data and advocacy from the CAGs, led to government increases in air-quality improvement action.

This study was conducted in close consultation with Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board and Indore Smart City Development Limited (ISCDL), with implementation support from the Indore School of Social Work, TD Environmental Services, and Skymet Weather Services. This work is continuing in Indore through ISCDL and the Confederation of Indian Industries.

Building Healthy Cities is a five-year cooperative agreement funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under Agreement No. AID-OAA-A-17-00028, beginning September 30, 2017. BHC is implemented by JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. (JSI) with partners International Organization for Migration, Thrive Networks Global, and Urban Institute, and with support from Engaging Inquiry, LLC. This project is made possible by the generous support of the American people through USAID. USAID administers the U.S. foreign assistance program providing economic and humanitarian assistance in more than 100 countries worldwide.

For more information, contact Amanda Pomeroy Stevens, BHC project director, at

Partner with Us

We strive to build lasting relationships to produce better health outcomes for all.