Air pollution is a harsh problem for Vietnamese cities. In the 2018 Environmental Performance Index published by Yale University, Viet Nam was on the 159th place in terms of air quality. Among other means to address the problem, the country can raise public’s awareness. Thanh Da Secondary School in Ho Chi Minh installed an air quality index monitor a few months ago and now students know a lot of air pollution and how to prevent and mitigate it.
Speaking at a forum on improving public awareness of air quality at the American Center in Ho Chi Minh, Đinh Thị Thiên Ân, the school principal, said: “Many students gather at the air quality monitor during class breaks every day to watch the air quality index. Students who have smart phones watch the index on the application.” After seeing the pollution levels through the index, they understood the importance of wearing masks on the way to school and also began to take action to reduce pollution, she said. Besides, now it was easier for teachers to teach them about this issue, the principal said.
Trịnh Ngọc Hương, a student at the school, said that she and her friends made a video on air pollution using the monitor’s indexes.
The forum on improving public awareness of air quality explored ways to help ensure that HCM City has both a sustainable economy and clean air for people to breathe.
Local air pollutants are ranked among the top causes of premature death by the World Health Organization. They have been at alarming rates in Ho Chi Minh, according to environmental scientists. Marianne Oehlers, chief of the program partnerships office, UNICEF Viet Nam, said that one of 10 children aged under five dies due to air pollution.
In an effort to promote child participation in tackling child-related urban issues under the framework of the UNICEF – HCM City Child-Friendly City Initiative Cooperation Program, the Saigon Innovation Hub began piloting the Social Innovation Clubs project and Clean Air project in 2018.
These efforts aim to enable children and teenagers to play an active role in improving air quality and make Ho Chi Minh a cleaner and more child-friendly and resilient city.