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Eko Element: Building capacity for competent water and soil management

Eko element (BiH) project “Korak po korak” promotes and reinforces practical and professional management of water and soil through trainings for CSOs on sampling, laboratory analysis and interpreting results aiming to build capacities for on-the-spot citizens’ monitoring and fast reaction on water and soil pollution incidents.

The overall activity of Civil Society Organization (CSOs) working in the field of environmental protection requires professional specialization and competent technical capacities in water and soil management, because, in practise they are the first to react in incidental situations, and citizens and institutions rely on them for expert opinion and action on the issue.

EKO ELEMENT, SEENET member from Bosnia and Herzegovina, working since 2008 on environmental issues both in Bugojno local community and, in cooperation with Eko-BiH network, in the whole BiH territory, aims to develop these capacities in water and soil monitoring with the project “Korak po korak” (Step by step) through workshops for CSO’s on the complete process of proper sampling, work in laboratory and processing the results.

Considering that proper water and soil management requires constant quality monitoring, building this capacity enables better protection and determination of pollution of water and land. The idea is that every organisation participating in this project has at least one person familiar with sampling water and soil and analysing it in the laboratory, so in the situations needed he or she can react accordingly.

The project includes three trainings, two in the applicant's laboratory (for the region of north and central BiH). Every training should have at least 4 NGOs with one or two representatives and eventually interested members of public and educational institutions.

The goal of this project is to foster the possibility of fast sampling and analysis of soil and water in whole BiH for emergency situations. The Number of NGO's in the program will cover about 50% of the Eko BiH network in the country. Special attention will be on different geographical locations of participants so more regions will be covered and in the case of need they can react in a timely manner (24h) for the examination of contaminated medium. Besides, all participants will bring samples from their region and with those results we will get a realistic situation of the quality of soil and water across BiH which will also be useful for comparison in the future.

The other side of the coin is the general lack of knowledge in BiH public about obligations considering monitoring of water and soil quality that result in ignorance about responsibilities of public institutions and enterprises by NGOs and citizens. Therefore, a second step is the research of the legal binding standards and parameters for local government institutions as well as valid EU norms that are required for the process of integration.

All collected results of this research will be incorporated into one educational publication accesible for the general public. It will be the first document of that kind in BiH, and we hope to set a standard for informing citizens about responsible water and soil management in accordance with local law and European practice. The handbook will be distributed to all members of the Eko BiH network and to all interested parties, public companies and educational institutions. All the work and progress will be recorded, presented and disseminated in the form of a promo video.

This is a demanding project in which Eko Element could very much use a "Support to SEENET network and members" subgrant as financial support  for implementing the research, training, publication, as well as for printing and distributing the promo material, but also for spreading the information to NGOs. Last but not least, also very important is the support of SEENET organisations in promoting the water and soil good-practices introduced by the realisation of this project, which will be beneficial for the whole country as one important step forward in sustainable development and protection of natural resources.