Taking samples from the polluted River Neretva, running an informational campaign about the negative impacts of small hydropower plants planned on the River Neretvica, evaluating the ecosystem of the River Doljanka, or creating original coloring books capturing the beauty of the landscape around Bjelava – these are some of the activities of local initiatives (1) to be financially supported by the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Our goal is to protect Bosnia-Herzegovina's watercourses from pollution and harmful hydropower; therefore we need to support people doing it on a regional level – by fighting against the construction of small hydropower plants, doing water quality monitoring, or educating the public,” explains the coordinator of the Czech-Bosnian joint project from the Czech NGO Arnika, Zuzana Vachunova. “Thanks to this Small Grants Program, we can help locals to prevent their drinking water from being stolen, polluted, and poisoned or they're being exposed to droughts and environmental and agricultural losses. Also, people will be able to learn how to take practical steps to defend themselves against the construction of small hydropower plants,” adds Dragana Skenderija from the Coalition for the Protection of Rivers of BiH.
The local initiative “Because it concerns us” has been fighting for years against the unsecured Uborak landfill in the city of Mostar, which is polluting the River Neretva and represents a health hazard for its citizens. Thanks to the grant, the initiative will be able to take samples of water, determine the pollution of the River Neretva, and present the hard data to the public and the responsible authorities.
At the beginning of last year, citizens around the River Neretvica learned about plans to build 15 small hydropower plants which would have a negative effect on the water quality and land and river use, as well as the river ecosystem. Locals have been opposing the plans since then by legal means, physical blockades, and a media campaign. Thanks to the Small Grants Program, an informational campaign with a public forum focused on local citizens and decision-makers led by the local initiative “Let me flow” will be further supported.
“Association for Doljanka” will focus their project on the evaluation of the ecosystem of the River Doljanka, which was disrupted by the construction of the small Zlate hydropower plant – a project whose investor is the country’s most formidable basketball player, Mirza Teletović. For a long time, locals unsuccessfully opposed the project, about which they had not been properly informed and which also prevented them from using the river. To get instruments to change this, the association will conduct a biological research study and evaluate the impacts of the power plant on the local flora and fauna.
Another association fighting against the construction of small hydropower plants, “Bjelava Citizens Association”, is going to use the funds on a project focused on schoolchildren and their parents. The association will create coloring books showing the beauty of the local landscape and organize a competition for the best essay, as well as excursions to the traditional water mill on the River Bjelava.
The Small Grants Program is led by Arnika (Czechia), Coalition for the Protection of Rivers of BiH, and Center for Environment (BiH) and financially supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic within the Transition Promotion Program. More information can be found here: https://www.eko.ba/male-grante#podržani-projekti.
(1) The initiatives that are supported are: “Jer nas se tiče” (“Because it concerns us”), “Pusti me da tečem” (“Let me flow”), “Udruženje Za Doljanku” (“Association for Doljanka”) and “Udruženje građana Bjelava” (“Bjelava Citizensʼ Association ”). Each initiative will receive 1000 EUR for its activities.