Rustavi Residents Fight against Air Pollution in the City
Rustavi is one of the most polluted cities in Georgia, in terms of concentration of particulate matter (PM) and other pollutants in the atmospheric air. 400 ha of Rustavi’s territory is an industrial zone with over 40 factories. Some of these factories release large quantities of pollutants into the envi-ronment without proper air filtering systems, affecting thousands of residents. The majority of Rustavi citizens have never visited such areas nor witnessed the environmental damage it means for the community, and therefore cannot understand the severity of the situation.
EWMI ACCESS supports civic activists from Rustavi under the name Gavigudet (WeAreSuffo-cating), who organize citizen mobilization and advocacy campaigns to combat air pollution in the city. In August, Gavigudet organized bus tours to the industrial zone to draw public attention to the issue. Participants came from diverse social and age backgrounds: local citizens, school students, journalists and other parties witnessed the alarming levels of pollution with their own eyes.
Moreover, the activists organized an awareness-raising campaign on Rustavi-Tbilisi public minibuses to reach wider audiences and gain support. In the words of one of the organizers, Nikoloz Museridze, “the dire environmental background cannot be clearly seen; however, pollutants omitted by these factories enter our bodies and cause serious harm to our health”.
The movement has today over 12,000 followers on Facebook and its activities are regularly covered by the media. The project team has creatively and skillfully used social media for awareness-raising and public engagement. Moreover, Gavigudet is actively involved in law-making processes. Thanks to their civil work, numerous amendments are being prepared to a number of laws with the aim of tracking down pollution cases, prevent violations and adequately respond to them.