A craft competition offering a summer eco-camp experience as the “prize” attracted 50 students from two regions in Georgia. The activities were undertaken by the Waste Management Technologies in Regions (WMTR) project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by ICMA’s CityLinks program together with the Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN) – a local sub-recipient of the award.
As part of the project’s Communication and Outreach component, the competition was devised to promote best waste management and recycling practices among local communities of the target regions, including 37 eco-clubs in the Kakheti region and 15 eco-clubs in the Adjara region. Students in grades 9 through 12 from 22 schools took part in the competition.
Students were asked to create crafts from recyclable household waste and submit photos of their work to a panel of judges. The panel included Goga Chanadiri, photographer; Rusiko Oat, art critic; Nana Janashia, CENN Executive Director; and WMTR staff members Nino Tevzadze and Natalia Partskhaladze. Twenty-seven entries were chosen as winners based on their originality, innovation, and artistry.
Winners of the craft competition were invited to a 10-day summer eco-camp held at the Bulachauri Green Center from August 4-13, 2014. The camp was dedicated to integrated waste management and covered
Students participating in an activity at the eco-camp.
topics including climate change and associated hazards, problems and regulation mechanisms in Georgian waste management, and energy efficiency and sustainable agriculture. Campers had the opportunity to attend seminars, go on field trips, and participate in discussions based on the day’s theme.
Organizations working on waste management and related issues visited the camp to deliver seminars based on their experience. These organizations included Coop, a Georgian company working on recycling issues; the Clean-up Georgia project, implemented by the Greens Movement of Georgia and Ecovision with the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA); and the Enhancing Capacity for Low Emission Development Strategies (C- LEDS) Clean Energy Program, implemented by Winrock International with the support of USAID.
Campers were also taken on several field trips to get a firsthand look at existing practices and the effects of climate change. They visited Kazbegi to observe glacial moraines and the reduction in glacial coverage. In Mleta they saw the results of deforestation in a landslide area. At the demonstration plots organized by the Rural Community Development Agency campers witnessed techniques developed to protect natural resources and avoid pollution from agricultural practices in rural areas.
Midway through the camp, the winning entries of the craft competition were shown at an exhibition in Tbilisi in an effort to popularize the idea of the 4R’s (reduce, reuse, repurpose, recycle) as good integrated solid waste management practice. The venture came together with the help of the Czech Embassy in Tbilisi and waste/recycling artist Veronika Richterova. The Czech ambassador’s participation at the event contributed to its success.
The camp concluded with presentations from campers about what they had learned. At the closing ceremony, campers received certificates from USAID representative Tamar Barabadze and WMTR Chief of Party Robert Bodo.
Following the camp’s conclusion, program staff analysed pre and post tests administered to campers and found that that 92% of them demonstrated improvement in their knowledge of waste related issues, with 31% showing a strong improvement. Campers gave a tremendously positive review of their experience and many plan to put their newfound knowledge into practice in their homes and communities.
The Waste Management Technologies in Regions project was officially launched in the country of Georgia during March of 2014. The project is designed to assist the Government of Georgia with the development and implementation of integrated waste management and recycling systems. Pilot programs to combat the adverse health and environmental effects of Georgia’s many uncontrolled landfills and unofficial dumpsites are being executed in select municipalities.