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Pristina school children wage war on waste

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Children from 26 primary and secondary schools are taking the capital's waste problems into their own hands this week in a city-wide school clean-up that they hope will help spur the city's administration into sorting out municipal rubbish collection.
On Thursday and Friday (October 28-29), classes will be out with brooms, bags, gloves, shovels, and good spirits to clean up school premises and the surrounding areas in Youth and Clean Environment Campaign.

Orchestrated by the Kosova Independent Trade Union of Elementary and Secondary Schools, the World Health Organization and British KFOR, the Campaign is based on a simple premise: get out and clean up the rubbish that's in and around the school premises, then keep it clean with regular waste patrols by "Waste Champions". In addition classes will be focusing on environmental issues and their health effects over these two days and pupils will be encouraged to draw, paint and write stories to the theme of "We want our town to be clean!"

"Our action for a clean environment will serve as a message for the citizens to keep our town clean, and for other officials to take the initiative not only to clean up the city but to plant grass and flowers, and create some parks," says Mrs Mejrme Shema, teacher at Shtatë Shatatori School who is a driving force in the campaign.

The campaign is funded by the UK's Department for International Development to the tune of 57,000 DM, which has bought enough cleaning equipment for several months, and art supplies for educational activities that are to run alongside the clean-up campaign. KFOR and municipal waste contractors Hygjena Teknika are providing trucks, to collect the hundreds of plastic sacks the children are expected to fill. KFOR is also providing plenty of moral support in the form of Gurkhas and Royal Green Jackets who will help supervise the cleaning operations in the schools together with the school directors and teachers, and the NGO Balkan Sunflowers.

The children's action will send a sharp reminder to the capital's administration that, despite British KFOR efforts and support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and USAID, Pristina is still has large accumulations of waste.
However, WHO environmental health adviser Sarah Gayton, who is part of a WHO team putting together a patchwork of donors to help re-establish local waste contractors, is optimistic that the two key problems hampering good waste collection - equipment and the legislation needed to authorise municipal waste charges - may be solved soon. This, and the Youth And Clean Environment Campaign, should point the way to a cleaner future for the capital, she adds.

For further information, please contact:

Hilary Bower, Information Officer

Sarah Gayton, Environmental Health Officer

WHO Office, Pristina

+ 381 38 549 216/218

Kosova Independent Trade Union of Elementary and Secondary Schools:

Campaign co-ordinators: Mejrme Shema: 29 420
Luffi Mani: 25 537, main office: 52 9038