Hai Moldova! is uniting the whole country for a cleanup (Mar 24)

Last year few girls from Moldavia took part in the amazingly successful cleanup in Slovenia. Right there and then, they decided to start the initiative at their home country. Now the whole Moldavia has decided to join them - Hai Moldova! cleanup day is happening in just few weeks - 16th of April. One of the team members, Daniela Cibotari, shares their story.

How much illegal garbage is in Moldova? Where is it?
In Moldova the garbage is mainly concentrated in or around populated areas like cities and villages. Most of the villages do not have a waste management system at all, Therefore we have more than 600 authorized landfills, most of which are close to a water resource or a forest. We have mapped a test region of  30km2  that revealed approximately 2.3 mil m3 of garbage in Moldova, 99% is construction waste and illegal dumpsites, hardly collectable by hand, only some 1% - 23,000 m3, or 230,000 100L bags, can be collected. This 23,000 m3 of garbage is mostly plastic and is evenly spread on recreation sites, river beds, road sides and fields. There are not many companies in Moldova that recycle the garbage, nor they have the capacity to collect it from all the villages, therefore, just a small part of the garbage will be recycled.

Have you mapped it?
We've mapped intensively around Chisinau, a fifth of the countries surface, we are preparing a report for next week. A surface of nearly 1000 km2, should reveal more accurate data and make some light of how the issue of unauthorized-authorized landfills and waste management in rural areas could be solved. However because most of the `seen` garbage is collectable, having 100,000 volunteers collecting garbage on the 16th of April, will have a huge impact on mother nature. And little by little, our world (Moldova) will become clean.
How did your team meet, who are the people working in the team?
The idea brought us together, the garbage problem made us dedicate to it! Our first meeting happened in October '9. Most of our core team is made out of young specialists and students. With time, organizations and field specialists helped us a lot and supported our cause in their circle. We did not have a good human resource management, but are driven by enthusiasm, that brought us along, close to our purpose.
Have you had local cleanups before in Moldova? Are they popular?
We have cleanup actions regularly, however they lack in consistency. They happen mainly twice a year and involve mostly the Public Authority employees. One of our tasks will be to spread the word, raise the awareness and get everyone involved. The idea is great! People are following!
Which areas are you hoping to include?
Our efforts are directed towards the whole territory of Moldova, which consists of 32 districts and 3 big cities. We have already 20 teams in more than 20 districts, and this number is increasing day by day, as people get information about Hai Moldova from various sources - schools, universities, local NGOs, public authorities, TV and radio, contests and of course, internet.

How have you engaged local communities? Or what are you planning to do to engage them?
The work with local communities is extremely important and we keep in touch with them by participating at their first official meeting and press conference, and by making trainings for them every Saturday in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. A vast number of them contact us before we contact them, and some of them, make even local promo videos, which is admirable!
Have you had contact with local authorities? Do they support your action? How?
One of the first steps in our campaign was to contact central and local authorities to gain support for the project. To compensate the lack of regional partners (NGOs) in 10 districts, we had to rely on local authorities from the beginning. So, in order to get the message about the project to as much people as we could, we went to the local authorities for support. The state channel is by far the biggest source of information for the people in rural areas. Actually, one of the first actors to finance our movement was the Ministry of the Environment and it was a great step on the way of gaining credibility with sponsors, partners in private sector and the public in general.
Therefore, the assistance of local authorities is crucial to our campaign and we will use the existing state infrastructure, where not possible other way, to mobilize people, to coordinate the work of volunteers and the evacuation of the garbage.
How have you been preparing for the cleanup?
We have contacted all the Public Authorities and sought for all the support towards garbage bags and gloves supplies. As well waste transportation and locally volunteer management.
With the private sector we've achieved their participation in the clean-up day and some help with financing the media campaign.
We have planned 4 events prior the cleanup day, 2 of them in the past already that turned really successful and brought us in the attention of all media. We have 2 more. And we are intensively preparing for them.
We are finishing with the mapping. Our media campaign is heading to the peak. Garbage bags and gloves are assured. Main focus is logistics and awareness.
Has anything surprised you in the process?
We have been surprised there is actually more garbage than we thought there was. Even though we knew there was a lot. As well surprising was people's reaction to volunteering. It seems like we are inventing volunteering for Moldova. The most surprising thing was the flash mob we planned. In our wildest dreams we planned 800 attendants and where utterly surprised when more than 1000 people showed up including the prime-minister and city mayor, for that day we were in top news on a national level. An inspiration that makes us believe - on 16th of April, hundred thousand citizens and visitors will make Moldova a cleaner place.
When will be the cleanup?
The cleanup day is established on the 16th of April. And we really hope it will be a historic day for Moldova and its people, and will be a great step towards other great changes in our beautiful country. We are trying to involve everybody, beginning with children from kindergartens and ending with their parents and grandparents.