Collaboration with Local Authorities and the Local Community to Undertake the Environmental Rehabilitation of
the Prytvarka River System

Grant Recipient

"Yunisphera" Public Children's Association
Photoarchive

Project Leader




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Nina Semenova

Contact

Chkalova St., 27/10,
Boyarka town, Kyivska Oblast, 08154
Tel: +38 04498 46806, +38 04498 40700
E-mail: unisphere@ukrpost.net

Goal

To stimulate cooperation between "Yunisphera" and the local authorities, other NGOs and the general public with the aim of uniting efforts to solve the environmental problems of the river system.

Objectives

  • to research and describe sources of pollution and damage caused to the bed of the River Prytvarka; to inform the authorities and local communities about the situation;
  • to collaborate with deputies through meetings, round tables and personal contacts; to hold meetings with children;
  • to discuss issues relating to the environmental state of river system during sessions of the town council;
  • to prepare a pack of documents about the legal provision of water protection and the Programme of Urgent Activities aimed at preventing degradation processes in water reservoirs and initiating their environmental rehabilitation; handing in the relevant documents for approval at a session of town council;
  • to hold public hearings;
  • to found the “Organisation to Protect the River System” with the participation of local authorities, enterprises, NGOs, citizens and businessmen;
  • to carry out trainings for teachers and students – members of “Environmental Patrol”;
  • to organise activities with the aim of cleaning up the banks of rivers and ponds;
  • to carry out an information and educational tour to schools, enterprises and organisations;
  • to organise performances by the environmental theatre, meetings with “Environmental Patrols”, lessons in ecology, and exhibitions of drawings and photos;
  • to conduct “Environmental Patrol” spot-checks in order to monitor the environmental situation in the basin of the river system; to organise groups of activists from the local population;
  • to publish a series of information and educational posters under the title, “Let us save the river, ponds, streams”;
  • to organise a festival called “Springs of clean water”.

Project Area

Kyivska Oblast

Results

"Environmental Patrol" groups were organised

In order to study the environmental state of the Prytvarka river system, four "Environmental Patrol" groups were organised. They included children from grades 5-11 of Boyarka Secondary School #1 (21 pupils), the Kiev-Svyatoshynsky Rayon Children's Centre for Eco-Naturalistic Creativity (12 pupils), Kyiv-Svyatoshynska Rayon Classical Gymnasium (16 pupils) and Malyutyanka Secondary School (11 pupils). The "Environmental Patrols" worked according to a programme that was spe-cially created for them by their teachers. The programme envisaged time for practical activities at waterbodies and for theoretical lessons. The schoolchildren became familiar with the Water Code of Ukraine and studied the basic functioning of small rivers and their aquatic flora and fauna. School-children not only help adults but are an independent force in their own right.

"Environmental Patrol" teams systematically monitored the environmental state of the Prytvarka river basin. From time to time they were assisted by young actors from "Yunisphera" Environ-mental Theatre, schoolchildren from action teams, friends and classmates. They conducted 23 spot checks. "Environmental Patrols" identified both positive and negative changes in the state of the river basin. They documented the changes in their reports, and described the situation in their "Environmental Patrol" leaflets and in the rayon media. They talked with local residents, informing them about the Water Code of Ukraine. They also conducted street activities and persuaded citizens to participate in all-Ukraine and local environmental actions. People living on the banks of the riv-ers have already become used to visits by the "Environmental Patrols": they understand that abuse of waterbodies is being monitored. However, some people reacted in an ignorant way to the school-children's visits, and the patrols were sometimes threatened.

"Environmental Patrols" assessed the ecological status of the River Prytvarka using tests developed by the National Ecological Centre of Ukraine (NECU). According to these tests the score for an ecologically healthy river is a maximum 294 points, however Prytvarka scored only 72 points, which means that the ecological status of the river is assessed as "bad". The patrols discovered that all the factors contributing to the critical ecological state of the river were of human origin.

 

Co-operation was established with people's delegates

In order to find an optimal solution to the critical situation of the city's waterbodies, "Yunisphera" members asked people's delegates to Boyarka City Council (10 people) what their opinion and po-sition were on the issue of rehabilitating the Prytvarka. Individual conversations with each delegate revealed a number of thoughts and positions, from disbelief that waterbodies can be saved to the need to conduct trenchant actions to save the river. In general, the delegates expressed their support for "Yunisphera" initiatives and the need to solve the existing problems as a matter of urgency.

On 18 September 2003 a round table, "Ways to Effect the Ecological Rehabilitation of the Pryt-varka River system", was held. It included the following participants: Town Mayor, Town Council deputies, scientists, NGO representatives, entrepreneurs and schoolchildren (in total 20 people). They discussed the environmental problems of waterbodies and ways to solve them. The following proposals were made: to develop partner relations between NGOs and local authorities; to involve entrepreneurs, state organisations and people who live along the banks of rivers in cleaning up reservoirs; to find funding; and to organise a "Public Committee to Protect the River" in order to help "Yunisphera" members.

 

An environmental theatre group was organised

A theatre group was established in order to promote environmental knowledge and to raise the envi-ronmental awareness of adults and children through dramatic art. The young actors were school-children of class 8-A from Kyiv-Svyatoshynska Rayon Classical Gymnasium. This class is a collec-tive member of "Yunisphera". The head of the environmental theatre group is the class teacher, Mrs. Olena Lazebnyk. The repertoire of the group includes the play, "Adventures of Water Drop-let". The author of the script, which was written in verse, was Gymnasium teacher, Mrs. Valentyna Syzon. The characters included River Prytvarka, neglected Boyarka ponds and impudent dikes. The designer of the play was Gymnasium teacher, Mrs. Olena Prokopenko. The theatre group is an ac-tive participant in environmental and educational activities in the town. However, the young actors do not confine their involvement to the theatre: they also participate in "Yunisphera" activities and in practical activities during environmental actions.

 

The "Public Committee to Protect the River Prytvarka" was established

The Committee was established on 18 September 2003 in order to promote efforts to solve the envi-ronmental problems of the River Prytvarka. The Committee, which includes 10 people, defined its first tasks as: to identify the environmental problems at the reservoirs, to assess the scale of the problems and define the priorities, and to develop an action plan for a number of inexpensive, constructive, highly efficient means to gradually improve the river system.

 

Environmental actions were conducted

In September 2003, "Yunisphera", with the help of the City Council, organised the citizens of Boyarka to participate in the All-Ukraine action, "Clean Ukraine - Clean Earth". In total, more than 250 people participated in the action. Schoolchildren from the Gymnasium and Boyarka Secondary School #1 and people who live along the banks of the river took part in the work on the river (around 60 people). They cleaned the river banks from Dekabrysty Street to the railway em-bankments (several kilometres); the relevant town services removed the rubbish collected on the same day. Three unsanctioned rubbish dumps were destroyed. The events were featured in the "New Day" rayon newspaper and in the "Environmental News" leaflet published by "Yunisphera".

In autumn 2003, "Yunisphera" members organised an action called "Forest Spring". The citizens of Boyarka are very familiar with the spring in the forest on the Prytvarka floodplain due to its cool, clean, tasty water. However, this spring has also suffered at the hands of humans - it has become polluted and neglected. Local residents, Mykola Lysenko and Mykola Biychuk, took the spring un-der their wing. They cleaned up the spring, collected money for building materials from interested citizens, bought the materials, decorated the spring in the traditional way, and built a small bridge across the river. "Yunisphera" members told residents of the town about the activities at the spring in their "Environmental News" leaflet, and they decided to take care of the spring. At present, chil-dren visit not only to clean around the spring but also to attend to the cleanliness of the river in a forested area of the floodplain some distance from the spring. At the children's request, a local priest blessed the spring.

In April 2004, "Yunisphera" organised the All-Ukraine action, "Living Water - 2004. Joint Ac-tions", in Boyarka; the local authorities supported the action. An Organising Committee was estab-lished; its agenda was approved; money was provided from the local budget to plant bushes and buy rubbish bags and gauntlets to collect the garbage as well as to provide prizes for the young environmental activists. All the Town Mayor's deputies helped to organise the work on the river. On 19 April, "Environmental Patrols" teams began the action with street activities. Pupils dissemi-nated leaflets, distributed information about the Water Code of Ukraine among the residents, and appealed to the public to participate in the work on Saturday, 24 April.

On 24 April, the action, entitled "River Day", was held: interested Boyarka residents and "Envi-ronmental Patrol" teams cleared rubbish from the river floodplain near their homes and removed rubbish dumps. Young ecologists informed the Organising Committee about serious littering of pond banks by domestic waste from Kyiv. Together with the residents, they planted bushes on the riverbank (a housing area in Ivanivsky cul de sac). Together with their leaders, 30 children from the Gymnasium, Boyarka Secondary School #3 and Kiev-Svyatoshynsky Rayon Children's Centre for Eco-Naturalistic Creativity cleaned up the riverbanks and the area near the forest spring, planted 60 bushes and cleaned up approximately a kilometre of riverbed in the forest. The relevant town ser-vices removed the garbage collected on the same day. Central TV (an educational channel) made a video about the town services' participation in the action, which was broadcast on 27 May at 10.00 a.m. on UT-2 (TV channel). Six groups of schoolchildren and three groups of riverbank residents (around 120 people) took part in the action at the reservoirs; 100 blackcurrant bushes were planted.

Within the framework of the action "Living Water - 2004. Joint Actions", the following aware-ness raising/educational activities were held:

  • Thematic lectures and unconventional lessons were given, notes for which were prepared by teachers, scientists and schoolchildren;
  • A round table, “The Dnipro in the Historical Destiny of Ukraine”, was held and videos entitled “Ukrainian Rivers” were shown (organised by “Taryagn Club”, leader: Mrs. Valentyna Syzon);
  • A performance of “Adventures of Water Droplet” was given (“Yunisphera” Environmental Theatre);
  • An All-Boyarka exhibition of children drawings, “Save Your River”, was held;
  • An exhibition of children’s drawings called “The River is My Friend” was held (organised by the art studio “Belief. Hope. Love”, leader: Mr. Pavlo Balamaji, Kyiv-Svyatoshynska Rayon Classical Gymnasium).

In total, more than 1,000 people took part in the action. The results were discussed at a meeting of the Executive Committee of Boyarka Town Council.

 

An environmental and educational event entitled "Let's Save Our River" was organised

The aim of the event was to present the environmental problems of Ukrainian small rivers to urban schoolchildren, to draw their attention to the critical state of the River Prytvarka and ponds in their native land, to involve young people in environmental-cultural activities so that they will go on to participate in practical activities to environmentally rehabilitate the river and ponds and adopt a car-ing attitude towards them. The event's agenda and composition of the Organising Committee were approved by decision of the Executive Committee of Boyarka Town Council. Boyarka Schools ##1-5, Kyiv-Svyatoshynska Rayon Classical Gymnasium, Kiev-Svyatoshynsky Rayon Children's Centre for Eco-Naturalistic Creativity, Boyarka Agricultural Technical School, Malyutyanka Secondary School and Kyiv-Svyatoshynsky Rayon Centre of Social and Psychological Rehabilita-tion all took part in the event. In total, more than 4,000 people participated. The event was divided into two stages.

The first stage - holding local activities in educational institutions - was organised from 26 January to 10 February 2004. The participating organisations received practical materials, notes for ecology, native studies and geography lessons, and special literature from "Yunisphera". Teachers from Boyarka schools and the technical school held open demonstration lessons, round tables, drawing exhibitions, and a poem and story competition. Meetings were held with people's delegates to the Town Council, scientists and residents. Schoolchildren - members of "Environmental Patrols" - held discussions in their schools, talked about the important role of the river in nature and about the problems of the Prytvarka; they asked schoolchildren to join them so that together they could pre-vent environmental disaster at the river. Pupils from the 11th grade of the Andriy Churilov Gymna-sium interested children being treated in Kyiv Oblast Children's Hospital in the issues.

On 11 February, the second and final stage of the event was held at the Shevchenko House of Cul-ture in Boyarka. Drawings, posters and photos were exhibited in the hall - a total of more than 60 items created by schoolchildren. All the exhibits were bright, full of content, gifted and very differ-ent. However, very few children drew the reservoirs as they are now - polluted, uncared for and blocked by numerous dams. The drawings show the children's desires and dreams for the future of the river, its clean and plentiful water, rich flora and fauna, beaches, boats, fishery and beautiful landscapes. Mr. Victor Yarovoy, Executive Mayor of Boyarka, and Mr. Vasyl Yurchenko, Director of Secondary School #1, opened the event. The Priest, Father Pavlo, also welcomed participants. Pupils from School #1 gave a concert performance of "Save Your River", based on a script by and with the participation of the School's Deputy Director, Mrs. Angelina Lakhtadyr. Children read their own poems and sang their own songs, and "Yunisphera" Environmental Theatre gave a per-formance of "Adventures of Water Droplet". At the end of event, awards were made: 70 people re-ceived diplomas, certificates and letters of appreciation from the Town Council and "Yunisphera". Almost 100 children received gifts.

 

Training sessions on the theme, "Let's Research Our River", were organised

The training was developed for schoolchildren - members of "Environmental Patrol" groups. Their leaders were teachers, heads of children's creative unions and scientists. In view of the age range of the members of "Environmental Patrols" (grades 5-11), the participants were split into two groups: younger group - 29 children, older group - 19 schoolchildren.

The training agenda included theoretical lessons and practical work with tests and a map of the Prytvarka river system, prepared by Gymnasium teacher, Mrs. Olena Prokopenko. Although the curriculum was almost the same for both groups, material with different levels of difficulty was pre-sented. Children learnt about environmental NGOs, international projects being implemented in Ukraine and awareness-raising children's organisations. The problems of Ukrainian small rivers were discussed. Participants in the sessions exchanged information about the results of their re-search on the Prytvarka using tests developed by NECU specialists. During work with the tests and the map the discussion became very intense because there were some differences in the way the young researchers interpreted the assessments.

 

A draft "Programme of Urgent Measures to Restore the River" was developed

The goal of the programme was to promote the solution of the environmental problems of the River Prytvarka by involving the wider public in environmental decision-making, and to establish mutu-ally beneficial co-operation between citizens, state authorities, industrialists, scientists, the media and other stakeholders to solve not only environmental but also relevant social problems.

The main tasks were as follows:

  • to establish close co-operation between all stakeholders to solve the environmental problems of the river;
  • to identify the environmental problems, assess and prioritise them;
  • to develop an Action Plan for the environmental rehabilitation and protection of the river sys-tem – a number of low cost, constructive, highly efficient activities to solve the river and pond problems identified as priorities;
  • to start to implement the prioritised activities to solve the environmental problems identified in the Action Plan.

The programme envisages the implementation of urgent actions such as the preparation, public discussion and presentation for approval of the "Decision about the Protection of Prytvarka River Basin in Accordance with the Water Code of Ukraine" at a meeting of Boyarka Town Council; the "Programme of Urgent Measures for the Environmental Rehabilitation of the River Prytvarka" would also be presented for review and approval. The programme envisages the following:

  • the demarcation of protected belts on the riverbank (5 m for the river and 10 m for ponds within the town, taking the existing situation into consideration);
  • a ban on any construction work in the riparian zone;
  • a ban on the building of unplanned dikes and urgent removal of dikes built without permission in the last few years;
  • a ban on the discharge of sewage waters and the removal of toilets from the protected zone;
  • the removal of unsanctioned rubbish dumps;
  • a start made on cleaning up the river system, starting from its sources;
  • the removal of the Sanatorny pond, as it has become a swamp and an unauthorised rubbish dump;
  • the removal of dead trees from the reservoirs

On 18 May 2004, the issue was considered at a meeting of the Executive Committee of Boyarka Town Council.

 

A public hearing was held

A public hearing, "Environmental Problems of the Prytvarka River System and Ways to Solve Them", was held on 27 May 2004 in Shevchenko House of Culture, Boyarka; 27 people were pre-sent. People's Delegates, NGO representatives, schoolchildren from "Ecological Patrol" groups and residents took part in the discussion. An appeal, formulated at the public hearing, was forwarded to Boyarka Town Council.

 

Leaflets, posters and a brochure, "Save Your River", were published and disseminated

Eleven issues of the "Environmental News" leaflet were published; 300 copies of each issue were circulated. The leaflets includes items such as: the assessment of the ecological state of the Pryt-varka river system, activities of "Environmental Patrol" groups, environmental and educational ac-tivities of "Yunisphera", participation in town and all-Ukraine environmental actions, and co-operation with local authorities and the community. A group of students under the guidance of Gymnasium teacher, Mrs. Valentyna Syzon, created a colour poster called "Protect!". Based on the results of the project, a brochure entitled "Save Your River" was published. Leaflets, posters and the brochure were disseminated to schools, the Town Council, among residents, participants of the 4th Workshop of Ukrainian Rivers Network and at the workshop-presentation of the "Save Your River" small grants programme.

Although the project has ended, the activities to rehabilitate the Prytvarka river system continue. The Public Committee to Protect Prytvarka is making plans for urgent and long-term actions and is looking for sponsors. "Environmental Patrols" continue to monitor their parts of the river and are preparing a project to make an inventory, tidy up streams and study stream water.

 

 
© 2005 Ukrainian Rivers Network
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