Civic initiatives in six industrial towns (Severodonetsk, Nikopol, Kramatorsk, Kharkiv, Kryvyi Rih and Zaporizhia) received funds to strengthen their local campaigns aimed at tackling air pollution from industrial sources. The Small Grants Program is run by the Czech NGO Arnika with the financial support of the Transition Promotion Program of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Endowment for Democracy fund. Total amount of the grants reaches 12,000 EUR. The initiatives will also receive the Oxygen air monitoring stations (more information about the new non-stop online access to air pollution data in Ukraine can be found here).
Asphalt and air / Severodonetsk
Implementing organization: Crisis Media Center Seversky Donets
Although Azot, one of the largest nitrogen chemical and fertilizer plants in Europe, has been shut down as a consequence of the war with Russia, citizens of Severodonetsk (and especially the adjacent village Voevodovka) still suffer from air pollution. It is caused by two asphalt plants located in close vicinity to residential districts. The Crisis Media Center will investigate the situation, carry out information campaign, organize public discussions and seek out to find solution to the existing issues. Moreover, air monitoring stations will be installed in the town to bring data on concentrations of pollutants.
“As a part of our project, we hope to activate the residents of Severodonetsk and Voevodovka to pay more attention to the activities of asphalt plants in the region. We understand the value and importance of industry plants – they give people jobs, pay taxes and improve the transport infrastructure. But we can’t allow this to threaten the health of the residents due to high levels of air pollution in the region. We hope that our participation in the Small grants program will enable us to find a sustainable solution which will consider the needs of all the interested parties and further ensure decrease in air pollution,” said Elena Nizhelskaya, the Head of Crisis Media Center Seversky Donets.
Nikopol Clean Air / Nikopol
Implementing organization: Nikopol – Smart City
Nikopol is located in Dnipropetrovsk oblast, which leads the charts of the most polluted regions in Ukraine; and the residents often complain about excessive air pollution and frequent respiratory diseases. Existing municipal and state air monitoring systems are inefficient and deliver data on pollution with long delay, so the town’s residents don’t have access to reliable data on air quality. Nikopol – Smart City will install Oxygen stations and continuously publish information on air quality online. The group will initiate negotiations with public authorities, organize a roundtable to discuss the situation in town, and carry out a media campaign.
“The small grants program will help us to establish cooperation with the town officials and the polluting industries themselves. Through public influence, the program will help us to demand the industries to decrease their emissions and modernize their purifying facilities. Funds from the grant will allow us to obtain the air monitoring stations, but also support of professional experts, who will help us analyze the data and make appropriate conclusions,” said Alina Mashenko, coordinator of the Nikopol Clean Air project.
Increasing the activity of residents in defense of
their environmental rights / Kramatorsk
Implementing organization: The Community Development Fund
The Kramatorsk Ferroalloy Plant, established in 1880s, renewed its activities in 2014 – and the citizens learned about it from air quality. Although the company assures the public that the plant is equipped with the latest filters and its operation meets emission limits, the city residents gathered vast evidence of the opposite. The Community Development Fund will start civic monitoring of air pollution, collect documentation of extreme emissions through citizens and demand more intense activity of the State Environmental Inspectorate. The fund will also provide citizens with legal support, organize public discussions about environmental law and start a dialogue between citizens, officials and industries.
“The goal of the joint project of Arnika and the Community Development Fund is to carry out an information campaign and public events to increase social activity and awareness of Kramatorsk residents, so that they can better defend their environmental rights. With the help of the already installed sensors, the residents are being informed about air quality in the town. After we receive equipment which will allow us to measure air quality at the moment when the emissions are happening, a widespread public awareness campaign will ensue, which will support the residents to file lawsuits. We will also provide them legal support with their complaints about violation of the environmental law,” said Stanislav Chernohor, the coordinator of the project.
Know what you breathe / Kharkiv
Implementing organization: Good Will
Kharkiv is one of the key industrial cities in the Eastern part of Ukraine. There are 50,000 people living near the industrial area who are affected by emissions into the atmosphere. Unfortunately, citizens do not have access to reliable data on air pollution. Good Will will install Oxygen air monitoring stations and publish its data online. Together with experts, the civic initiative will verify whether the factories follow issued permits and emission standards. Good Will will also organize a public information campaign where the residents will learn about the project, its goals and where they can find the information from the sensors.
“Our project ‘Know what you breathe!‘ is aimed at popularization and expansion of the public air monitoring network. With the help of the small grants program from Czech NGO Arnika, we plan to install sensors in the Pesochinsky and Solonivetsky regions, so that the public can get information about emissions of pollutants into the atmosphere, react accordingly and deal with the after-effects. In this region, there is a vast industrial zone with more than 10 companies that have first-class permits for emissions into the atmosphere,” said Ksenya Tumanovskaya, coordinator of the project.
Know, participate, influence! / Kryvyi Rih
Implementing organisation: Stop Poisoning Kryvyi Rih!
Kryvyi Rih is the Ukrainian centre of coal and iron ore mining, built along the lode – and heavily polluted by outdated technologies. While the mining companies invest to increase their production capacities, the necessary improvements of their environmental impact remain overlooked. The situation negatively impacts the health of the town’s residents. Stop Poisoning Kryvyi Rih! will check all decision-making processes concerning either existing or new industries, especially the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), and ensure public participation in these procedures. The organization’s goal is to use legal tools to enforce better technologies and practices by industries.
“Our main goal is the protection of citizens’ environmental rights and prevention of worsening of the environment and human health. Participation in EIA procedures allows us to know in time about activities planned in Kryvyi Rih and demand all the necessary information which will allow us to assess the impact on the environment. At assemblies, we directly discuss with the industries. All our comments are also sent to the Energetics and Environment Ministry. Only the pressure of public opinion will make the polluting industries decrease their negative influence on the environment,” said Anna Ambrosova, the executive director of Stop poisoning Kryvyi Rih!
Action Green Protection / Zaporizhia
Implementing organization: Dzyga
Even though it’s obvious that living in an environment where one breathes constantly polluted air is a serious threat to human health, the Ukrainian legislation doesn’t include any course of action the citizens might take to enforce their right to living in a healthy environment. Organization Dzyga will conduct a comprehensive analysis of the existing environmental legislation and judicial practice, and based on its results, the activists will suggest practical steps the citizens can take to enforce their rights. Also, some pilot lawsuits will be filed. Dzyga will also install Oxygen air monitoring stations and use the obtained data as a supportive evidence in court.
“Firstly, the Small grants program allows us to bring in experts and lawyers to find solutions to issues where it isn’t enough for only the activists to participate. Issues where we are powerless. Like a comprehensive analysis of the existing environmental legislature. We want to attempt to protect our rights not only at the municipal level, but in court. This is a systematic work which pulls lots of resources, but it’s necessary. Thanks to this program, we will attempt to discover new ways to solve the issue of air pollution,” said Olesya Kramarenko, a representative of Dzyga.