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Tunisia and South Korea sealed a deal to improve air quality monitoring in Tunisia last week (17 April), with a view to creating an air quality improvement strategy for the country.

The Tunisian National Agency of Environment Protection (ANPE) and the Korean International Cooperation Agency will implement and oversee the project.

The cost of the three-year project is estimated at US$2.5 billion, which will be funded by South Korea.

The main aim of the project is to create a monitoring station that will include devices for measuring pollutants in the air such as dust and soot, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide.

Monitoring equipment for other volatile organic compounds, such as ozone gas, will also be set up, with a series of 15 monitoring stations. A mobile laboratory will also be available to monitor air quality in emergencies.

All stations will be linked to a central data system at the ANPE headquarters, and will be used to establish a data bank on air quality and pollution for use as a reference point to create a national charter on air quality, and to forecast medium- and long-term air quality.

At the signing ceremony, the Tunisian environment and sustainable development minister, Nadhir Hamada, praised Korea's role in the project and expressed his wish to expand bilateral partnership to cover other areas, such as e-waste and water quality.

The Korean ambassador to Tunisia, Son Se-joo, said that the project also includes the organisation of workshops and training sessions in Korea for Tunisian technicians to learn how to operate and maintain the monitoring equipment.

Abdelfettah Boucebia, director of cooperation and exchange for ANPE, told SciDev.Net that Korean experts will also provide technical support in the setting up and maintenance of the planned stations.