Civic Activists Fight for Clean Air in Rustavi
Rustavi is currently one of the most polluted cities in Georgia. With 400 hectares of the city located in an industrial zone and many factories regularly releasing large quantities of pollutants into the environment without proper air filtering systems, thousands of residents have been impacted.
To address this issue, USAID has been supporting civic activists in Rustavi who are advocating for stricter environmental regulations to be enacted and enforced. Over the last 12 months, with support from the USAID Civil Society Engagement Program, the activist groups Gavigudet (We Are Suffocating) and EcoCentre conducted regular monitoring of the industrial zone and analyzed data from the atmospheric air portal.
The group compiled 65 monitoring reports with the help of Rustavi residents, who collected photo/video evidence and reported violations. Citizens also participated in various environmental activities in the city. Thanks to advocacy efforts, 13 out of 15 operating factories in Rustavi have now installed air filters and self-monitoring systems.
The project team was also involved in developing the “2023-2025 Air Quality Management Plan for the Central Zone,” which was approved by the government on August 7, 2023. The plan took several recommendations from citizens’ group into consideration. The Ministry of Environmental Protection also referred to Gavigudet’s monitoring results when evaluating the implementation of the 2020-2022 Rustavi atmospheric air improvement plan. According to their report, air pollution levels in Rustavi have decreased by 40% compared to 2019. Air pollution levels should be further decreased to reach the desired target. Gaviduet and Ecocentre will continue to be actively involved in the process of improving Rustavi’s air quality.