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Eco-Camp fosters youth on environment

By Ernest Petrosyan
Wednesday, August 31
The Eco Club award ceremony was organized by GLOWS Consortium (Global Waters for Sustainability) within USAID program INRMW (Integrated Natural Resources Management in Watersheds of Georgia), at Lagodekhi Protected Area on August 26.

9 EcoClubs in two pilot watershed areas of Racha and Kakheti regions have been established by CARE International, one of the GLOWS’ Consortium partners.

The EcoCamp in Lagodekhi Protected Area involved the participation of 23 youngsters from public schools of Racha and Kakheti regions and took place in the park for a week where trainings on project designing, team building had been conducted by CARE International. The EcoCamp, also aimed to improve youth engagement and raise public awareness on environment issues. Yet another goal of the EcoCamp was also the capacity building of EcoClubs through broadening networks. After the first step of training, participants drafted numerous projects regarding environmental protection and sustainable use of natural resources, and the most successful, according to Mariam Shotadze the INRMW Country Program Director, will be supported by the program.

At the EcoCamp closing ceremony Jill Kelley, Director of the Energy and Environment Office USAID, handed environmental mini lab kits to the 4 EcoClub winners which will enable youngsters to monitor drinking water quality and climate change. “When I was your age, I was all alone and did not have a club that could support my ideas and go out into the wild”, Jill Kelly told the children.

Giorgi Zedgenidze the Deputy Environment Minister also granted 4 diplomas for the best project ideas. Addressing the young participants, he emphasized how important it is to learn to protect the environment and develop such an approach, enables school children to assume responsibility from very young age towards environment protection.

9 Certificates of Training of Trainers on “Organizations Strategic Planning and Drafting Projects“ were granted by Thomas Reynolds, Mission Director of the CARE International in the Caucasus and Manana Ratiani, Expert of the National Curriculum and Assessment Center of the Ministry of Education and Sciences to all EcoCamp participants.

“When I came here I could hear you before I saw you. I wish that my children will have the same energy and enthusiasm when they become your age,” with these words Thomas Reynolds, Mission Director of CARE International in the Caucasus greeted the participants of an EcoCamp in Lagodekhi, East Georgia.

"Our goal is to earn the respect of local communities and then not give things away, but to help them organize, to empower them, and to help to make a plan. I think it is really important to start with young people. When young people start thinking about economic development and the environment I think it stays with them throughout their life”, told Reynolds.

“The earth is our motherland, and it is very important for us, the representatives of the younger generation, to protect the environment. I am very grateful to CARE for giving us an opportunity to unite through our common ideas. My goal is to implement my project “Racha Garden in School Yard”. This project has united us on this idea, and we will start implementing it upon arrival in Racha,” said one of the participants Ana Lomtadze.

“The aim of the INRMW program is to improve the condition of the local population. Firstly, by demonstrating the integrated management of natural resources to society involving youth and secondly in raising public awareness of sustainable usage of the natural resources, and creating possibilities for central and local authorities as well as the people’s consciousness also in respect of sustainable natural resource consumption,” stated Mariam Shotadze.

USAID launched the INRMW 4 year program in 2010 which is aimed at improving current and future lives of people in Georgia by utilizing and managing natural resources in a more sustainable manner including water, soil, vegetation and the entire ecosystem. CARE International in partnership with USAID is implementing the EcoClubs project actively involving children in public schools in pilot areas of Racha and Kakheti.