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Mbow Khadim

PhD student in sociology, Université Paris Cité

Doctoral School : 623 - Savoirs, Sciences et Éducation

Contact: mkhadimbow@(at)


Dissertation title de la thèse : Air quality knowledge regime in West Africa and government capacity: between scientific unknowns and public (in)actions

Dissertation under the direction of Soraya Boudia and Renaud Hourcade

Air pollution is a growing concern in the societies of the South. Several large African cities have developed air quality measurement systems in order to better understand the sources of exposure of their populations and the associated health risks. However, these systems appear to be expensive and limited in number. At the same time, the market for low-cost sensors has developed and their performance has become more reliable. These sensors have been integrated into official monitoring systems in some countries in order to ensure a wider geographical coverage of pollutant flows and population exposure. In this context, the aim of the thesis will be to

to draw up an inventory of the current and possible uses of these sensors and other alternative data sources (satellites, etc.) with a view to providing expertise for public action, on an international scale and more particularly on the African continent,

to determine, by taking a close look at the metrology and modelling techniques and the nature of the data produced, the knowledge gaps between the official measurements usually integrated into government regimes and the data acquired by other techniques, including low-cost sensors.

On this empirical basis, it will be necessary to propose a more theoretical reflection, in a multidisciplinary framework associating environmental sciences, science and technology studies, sociology of public action and political science, on the relationships between different knowledge regimes (high cost, low cost, experts, lay people, physical, sanitary...) within public action in environmental health, in a "South" context. The thesis will analyse the concrete implications of these different knowledge regimes for the orientations of public action (in terms of framing of problems, solutions), the phenomena of competition between knowledge, ignorance, 'science not done' and public inaction.

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