Recent research by IMRF intern Kiersten Sander into the response to ferry accidents around the world uncovered a great story of community action in Vietnam to promote safer ferry travel.
In January 2009, when people were shopping to prepare for the traditional new year, a ferry carrying 80 passengers and cargo across the Gianh River in Quang Binh province capsized, killing 42.
The tragedy motivated local young people to volunteer to help improve the safety of these ferry crossings. With support from the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union a ferry station was established manned by 10 of the youth members, initially paid but now volunteering. They are working with local operators to improve safety by encouraging the wearing of lifejackets by all passengers and preventing over-loading of the vessels.
Many passengers were initially unwilling to wear the lifejackets but through the patience and good will of the young volunteers the compliance rate has increased and the safety of those using the ferries has improved.
The programme has now expanded to 30 other provinces (mostly in the Central and Mekong Delta Regions) and is linking wharf owners with ferry operators to raise awareness of the risks and improve compliance with safety regulations. More than 1500 young people are now volunteering to support the programme.