KOTA KINABALU, 21 Feb 2022 (BERNAMA) - United Nations Children Fund (Unicef) and Sabah Environment Protection Department (EPD) today launched a joint project on air quality monitoring for schools in the state.
Sabah EPD director, Vitalis J. Moduying, said the Air Quality Monitoring in Schools (AQUAMS) programme will monitor air quality in schools with aims to establish a citizen science air quality monitoring initiative for the schools statewide.
He said AQUAMS will be implemented over a 12-month period which will involve capacity building, engagement with schools and communities, and the production of a guidance handbook.
"Together with Unicef, we hope to implement a statewide climate and air quality monitoring system to safeguard air quality from further deterioration. We hope to increase collaboration in technical support, data sharing, and the development of a regional action plan on children's environmental health.
"This programme is aimed to raise awareness level of air pollution issues as well as various environmental issues in Sabah including waste management and water pollution," he said in a statement today.
Also in the same statement, a study by Unicef, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), and Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), found that increased frequency and intensity of destructive typhoons have affected the residents and children of Pulau Gaya, causing a rise in infectious diseases, disrupting access to schools, and limiting access to basic services and supplies.
The study, entitled 'Impact of Climate Change on Children: A Malaysian Perspective (ICCC)', also calls for urgent actions from policymakers from both government and private sectors, as well as social innovators in the country.
Unicef Representative to Malaysia and Special Representative to Brunei Darussalam, Dr Rashed Sarwar, said climate change and environmental pollution are arguably the greatest threats to the realisation of children's rights which continuously undercut decades of global progress in improving children's welfare.
"Unicef, as the world's biggest organisation advocating for children's rights, will continue to take the lead in safeguarding children's rights to a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment," he said in the same statement.
UMS deputy vice-chancellor (Research and Innovation) Associate Prof Dr Ramzah Dambul, also in the same statement, said the issues of climate change and environmental pollution are becoming more prevalent globally, and Malaysia is not spared.
"As temperatures continue to rise, the country is expected to experience increasingly volatile weather systems. However, children are consistently being overlooked in the design and content of climate policies," he said.