Young people for a safe and clean environment
How UNICEF and local authorities support young people in Tajikistan in their pursuit of eco-activism for a sustainable future
Social and environmental issues go hand in hand - that's what 13-year-old Nigina Shukurova from Isfara, in northern Tajikistan, realized back in 2018. Garbage bins are one of the most basic facilities in any city's infrastructure. But in 2018, Isfara’s communities were missing bins.
Nigina is one of the most active volunteers of the UNICEF-supported project "Youth Participation in Decision Making" in Isfara city. Today, at 18, she has already been promoting the ideas of ecology and volunteerism in her community for several years, with the support of UNICEF and the Isfara City Administration. As part of her project, she has installed 25 garbage bins not only in the center of Isfara, but also in several border villages.
Nigina says that previously not all residents of her district, including children, had practiced the habit of throwing household waste and garbage in designated places, so it was not uncommon to see wrappers and plastic bottles on the streets. The issue was related to the lack of garbage bins, so Nigina suggested installing garbage bins in the most crowded places so that it would be convenient for residents to throw away trash. To optimize costs, the trash cans were made out of flour boxes, which are made from stainless steel and are large enough to last for many years.
Several hundred kilometers from Isfara, in the Histevarz district, Saodat Bobojonova, 19 years old, is leading the Green Patrol group. She also wrote her first environmental project early, four years ago. In her city, the lack of garbage bins was also an issue. So, a team of volunteers, under Saodat’s leadership, installed 20 garbage bins in the district’s schools. In addition, UNICEF volunteers-supported the project "Youth Participation in Decision Making", and printed warning signs and brochures on how to properly dispose of garbage.
Saodat decided not to stop there, and every spring, together with other Green Patrol volunteers, they plant up to 500 flowers and about 30 trees in the local schools. They are helped by school principals, city residents and relatives who want to help. Every month, Saodat along with other teens conduct clean-up events and information sessions on air pollution prevention. Currently, the 19-year-old girl is invited by the city administration to conduct trainings for her peers on the topic of environment and eco-activism.
Looking back, Saodat recalls that there were only 10 kids in the environmental movement when she started. But every year, since then, their number has been growing. Schoolchildren now pay attention to the guys in green T-shirts, who make their city cleaner and safer.
Nigina’s and Saodat’s environmental projects are slowly changing the views of their peers in their communities.