Volunteers Gathered 5000 Tons of Garbage in Kosovo

In just one day, the people of Kosovo got together to clean up 5000 tons of garbage. The President of Kosovo, Hashim Thaci invited all citizens to follow the example of people who joined the global initiative to clean up the waste. “These volunteers are the heroes that our country needs today, patriots that care for the present and the future of Kosovo, our citizens and the future generations to come. We must follow their example”, Thaci said.

Artina Muçiqi, a Let’s do it Kosova volunteer, writes: “However, as I took part in the Kosovo-wide “Let’s do it Kosova” campaign to clean up the place, I couldn’t help but ask myself: is it more effective to collect 5000 tons of garbage in one day or should I be collecting one piece of paper or garbage every day of the year? Now this is a tricky question.

Though I feel proud to have participated in this campaign for four years in a row, I wonder why we continue to talk about the increased number of illegal dumpsites we’ve cleaned? Recent numbers show that more than 540 illegal dumpsites still exist today in Kosovo. They present a hot spot for diseases, infections, environmental hazards and an ugly scene. Likewise, either politically or just within the neighbourhood, they represent a source of debate, accusation and conflict.

Photo: Let's Do It! Kosovo

Photo: Let’s Do It! Kosovo

However, shouldn’t we focus proudly on the people who are satisfied with the regular garbage collection? For me, 24 May 2016 was a beautiful day. I joined a motivated team of thousands of young and old who came together to clean Kosovo – even if it was for one single day. The campaign named ”Let’s Clean up Kosova” started in front of the Prishtina Clinical Hospital Center and continued into other parts of Prishtina. Within Kalabria, Prishtina alone, 500 volunteers supported the action! Meanwhile, in Podujeva, 21 dumpsites were attacked by bulldozers and shovels.

Overall, Let’s Do It! Kosova estimated that approximately 60,000 volunteers participated across 30 municipalities, covering 140 illegal dumpsites in just one single day. This included people from Malisheva to Podujeva and from Mitrovica to Dragash.

People say Kosovo has beautiful and smart people – the youngest population in Europe! However, they also say that Kosovo has an ugly environment and the most polluted air in Europe. How can these go hand in hand with each other? Many of my friends and I work hard to prove this not to be true. We struggle to find our niche in Kosovo as a future member of the EU and as a developed place of the future.

For the past two years, we’ve engaged with UN agencies such as UNDP, WHO and UNFPA in the Post 2015 Campaign. There, we have expressed our wishes for a more environmentally friendly place, better healthcare and education systems, and fair work opportunities. We have also expressed our strong message that young girls must be treated the same as young boys when it comes to these services. After all, everyone has an equal voice regardless of gender, right? The Constitution and Kosovo legislation lay that out clearly; the Constitution protects basic human rights and fights against discrimination for everyone who lives in Kosovo.

Kosovo’s Law on Waste considers littering to be an offense. Why is it not being enforced? If we managed to clean up 5000 tons of garbage into official dumpsites, why are we unable to educate our peers and the overall population on proper waste disposal?  How do we ask for better services? What is the penalty for those who do not abide by the rules?

These are questions we addressed during our regular discussions with the UN agencies – we hope to see the answers addressed as Kosovo progresses in its path to achieve future development goals. Today, we ask our institutions to take these issues seriously!”