World Vision Bangladesh launches idea competition to address urban air pollution

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Last year Bangladesh had the worst average air quality in the world, according to US Air Quality Index (AQI).

While some districts in Bangladesh have a US AQI comparable to the cleaner 30 per cent of the world, the air quality in some major cities, including Dhaka has deteriorated compared to the last year’s national average. The problem is now at a stage where it requires firm action and integration of innovation. 

In this regard, World Vision Bangladesh (WVB), in collaboration with Inspira Advisory and Consulting Limited, has launched ‘Urbania - World Vision Air Solutions Challenge’ -- a youth-driven idea competition that aims to address the urban air pollution problem by engaging young people, said a press release. 

The month-long competition, which is open to youth, including university students and young professionals, was launched on April 12 on a virtual platform. 

Shah Waseef Azam, a senior associate of Inspira Advisory and Consulting Limited, hosted the inaugural ceremony of the competition attended by development professionals and academicians. 

In the programme, Dr Mashura Shammi, associate professor of Environmental Science at Jahangirnagar University, highlighted the current situation of Bangladesh’s air pollution.

As of April 11, the US AQI of Dhaka was two-point worse than the national average in the same period last year, she said in her keynote speech. 

The competition, being held online due to the pandemic, has been organised as part of a comprehensive study into innovation and initiatives to address the air pollution problem through community-based approaches. 

In the programme, Suresh Bartlett, national director for World Vision Bangladesh, said air pollution in Bangladesh has always been at a dangerously high level and it never improved significantly, even during last year’s lockdown. 

Chandan Z Gomes, WVB’s senior director of Operations and Program Quality (SDO) emphasised the need for initiatives beyond usual to tackle the air pollution problem. 

It is imperative to explore cost-effective solutions that can be applied on a large scale, he said. 

Monju Maria Palma, deputy director of Urban Planning at WVB, presented her thoughts and expectations from the competition. 

She said the goal of their urban programme is to apply a city-wide approach to ensure the well-being of the city's children.