For a greener, cleaner Hội An

March 12, 2023 - 08:17
Despite being a small city and hard hit by climate change, Hội An is famed nationally and internationally as a tourist attraction. Rapid urbanisation and socio-economic development are putting the city under environmental pressure, risking damage to the natural ecosystem.
CORACLE: Locals participate in collecting waste in river water in Hội An. Photo

Environment is one of the important factors determining urban life quality, but for the ancient city of Hội An, a tourism hub in the central province of Quảng Nam, it is closely linked to an "open - green - clean - beautiful" standard in its tourism development.

Despite being a small city and hard hit by climate change, Hội An is famed nationally and internationally as a tourist attraction.

Rapid urbanisation and socio-economic development are putting the city under environmental pressure, risking damage to the natural ecosystem.

The Hội An Department of Natural Resources and Environment recently revealed the amount of waste generated from trade, service and tourism activities accounted for about 40 per cent of the city's total daily waste. This has led to serious overloading in the town's Cẩm Hà landfill.

Although the centralised wastewater collection and treatment network can meet 60 per cent of the needs, it can only treat about 23 per cent of the total generated wastewater.

Welcoming millions of visitors every year, authorities and people in Hội An have been struggling to find relevant solutions for environmental protection, particularly for wastewater and rubbish pollution.

CLEAN UP: Solid waste has placed a huge pressure on the ecological landscape of Hội An in recent years. Photo

Nguyễn Minh Lý, Vice Chairman of the Hội An People's Committee (the Municipal Administration), acknowledged that with 40 per cent of the wastewater volume without a collection network, the town still did not have any plan to treat it thoroughly.

It has mobilised many groups of society, including business enterprises, social organisations and individuals, to solve environmental issues.

Among such groups are rubbish collectors, particularly those of the Hội An Women's Union.

The woman rubbish collectors are recognised as making a great contribution to maintaining a clean and green environment for the town.

Unlike most women over the age of 50 who have retired to enjoy life or stay at home to do housework, Nguyễn Thị Kim Phương from Cẩm Hà Ward gets up very early in the morning every day to go out for collecting, sorting and purchasing solid waste for recycling.

Phương told Việt Nam News that the waste collecting job was now well recognised in society, particularly in Hội An, since it would help improve the environment. In the past, it was stigmatised as dirty, lowly work.

BEACHCOMBERS: Women, particularly those doing the job as waste collectors, play a vital role in improving the environment of Hôi An City. Photo

Her team of more than 20 members come from different areas with different economic circumstances, but most have a common purpose to earn a living in the city and support their family.

"The job of collecting and sorting rubbish is meaningful to society since it helps both directly or indirectly protect the environment," Phương said.

Phương collects dozens of tonnes of solid waste every month.

"There are some peak times in a year that we can sort up to 50–60 tonnes of rubbish per month. From our work every day, we realise that the better our lives are, the more waste we produce. We are always in a state of overload," Phương added.

She said she hoped everyone would increase their awareness of the amount of waste that they discharge every day, as a way to protect their own life and health.

Not only doing well her job as a waste collector, Phương is also actively participating in environment protection activities at the local women's union.

She and about 100 other women waste collectors have been called "silent protectors" of the city.

Their contributions were honoured at a ceremony held last December by the Hội An environment authority and the city's Women's Union together with organisations such as the Vietnam International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Green Development Support Centre, and the National Association for Protection of Peoples with Disabilities, Children's Rights and Poor Patients in Quảng Nam.

The chairwoman of the Hội An Women's Union, Ngô Thị Tuyết Nhung, said: "The event is an opportunity to praise and recognise the silent contributions of women who are regarded as an important link in the circular economy and in solid waste management in Việt Nam."

RECYCLED: Plastic dustbins and classified garbage boxes are donated to Hội An City’s women’s union, promoting plastic waste reduction among the local community and tourists. VNA/VNS Photo

Action for a green environment

In 2021, the local People's Committee, the provincial Tourism Association and related agencies signed a framework agreement with businesses to reduce waste for building Hội An as a green destination in 2021-2023.

Phan Xuân Thanh, chairman of the Quảng Nam Province Tourism Association, said the framework encouraged the wider participation of tourism businesses in waste reduction and the circular economy.

Hội An is now implementing a project on environmental protection, focusing on building an eco-culture-tourism town and solving pollution issues.

"From now to 2025, the town will focus on the protection of environmental components, environmental protection, green tree and green space management. Saving clean energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, actively adapting to climate change, preventing and responding to environmental incidents are also among the targets," Thanh said.

In 2019, a waste management project was implemented by the Quảng Nam Tourism Association. Since then, many solutions to waste have been worked out in the local tourism community, including sorting and turning waste into organic fertilisers for vegetables.

A lot of recycled products have been made in response to the project, such as soap from used oil by Sapo Hội An and An Nhiên Farm. Hội An Kayak Tour includes the opportunity to pick up rubbish, along the Thu Bồn River.

Various activities have been held, including those calling for local residents and businesses to reduce plastic waste.

The city also hopes that 100 per cent of its tourism staff will be trained in green and sustainable tourism. VNS

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