Eco-Camp 2007 report

Eco-Camp 2007 report
YOUTH OF BIH: TOGHETHER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT, SPRING CAMP 2007 (SEPTEMBER 01, 2006 – JULY 30, 2007)

Background and Summary of Achievements 

Recall the main problems relating to the subject that your project addressed the main actors (target group, implementing partners, etc.) in this project. 

A low environmental consciousness of citizens and an insufficient number of environmental subjects in schools is helping to further degrade the environmental situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (B&H). Poor policies, in addition to problems resulting from national divisions in the state, exacerbate pollution of the environment, especially along the inter-entity border where regulatory jurisdictions are vaguer.
Most schools in B&H have environmental sections, but they aren’t usually educated properly about problems and concrete solutions. For the most part, environmental sections have only a few members whose main activity is to clean up litter from the schoolyard or plant and maintain flowers in the garden. We have the opinion that it would be better for environmental sections to expand their activities, implement more concrete projects and raise environmental awareness among their fellows students and teachers.

With the ”Youth of B&H: Together for the Environment, Spring Camp 2007“ project, we worked with a group of young people from the sixth and seventh classes (12-14 years old), as well as their teachers and principals. B&H environmental sections include members from the fifth to eighth grades. The students from the sixth and seventh classes were perfect for this project because they already have some basic knowledge about ecology and they will still have at least one year to transfer their new knowledge to schoolmates, especially to those in lower grades.

Recall briefly the project objectives, desired results and project activities.

The main goals of the ”Youth of B&H: Together for the Environment, Spring Camp 2007“ project were:

  • Introduction of environmental education to participants of the Camp, discussion of local/regional problems and solutions, especially in the fields of energy efficiency, environmental health, environmental protection, pollution, recycling, renewable energy, resource management, transport, waste management and water conservation.
  • Motivation, awareness and confidence-building of the students to impact positively on environmental issues by taking more responsibility, promoting activism among themselves and their parents and finding an appropriate outlet and means for acting on their concerns, all in a sustainable and lasting way. In essence this goal is the promotion of voluntarism and civil activism, despite a young age, to show that everyone can make an impact.
  • To ensure that that the participants would see beyond the lines of division set by society (particularly ethnic, religious and gender), and understand that cooperative effort and joint actions are the key for true success and collaboration is the best means for achieving it, especially for such a shared and universal topic as the environment.
During this project we want to activate the environmental sections to work at the concrete problems, supported youth to take in consideration environmental issues and solving of that issues, erase lines of separation.

The project duration was 10 months and took place in three phases:

  • I phase: environmental sections started with different activities. The environmental sections chose their own activities to work on for three months. After that period, representatives of the environmental sections presented their work at a public exhibition,
  • II phase: members at the Camp went through environmental education and about project-writing,
  • III phase the realization of the small projects. Environmental sections from three schools each implemented one small project, as developed and selected during the Camp.
Recall the project’s overall goal, in particular its relation to the mandate and programmatic priorities of the OSCE in this area. 

The main goal of the “Youth of B&H: Together for the Environment, Spring Camp 2007” project was simultaneously the socializing of youth from the Tuzla and Brčko municipalities and work on environmental issues. Through the Spring Camp we achieved main goals of OSCE, firstly related to its environmental priorities and second in bridging the inter-entity gap between people of different religions, ethnicities and social groups.

Also representatives of the environmental sections made their own decisions about activities and small projects initiatives.

Describe briefly the operational context in which the project took place (i.e. from the start date until completion date). Include references to complementary activities by the OSCE, the host Government, International Organizations, NGOs. Indicate how co-operation and co-ordination was ensured.

We cooperated with the schools from the beginning until the end of project, and schools accepted their responsibilities and duties within the project.

Students worked on exhibition activities during their environmental section classes. The teacher was in charge of the environmental section’s work and activities were implemented with the director’s approval.

The Spring Camp was organized with school cooperation. We required approval from both the principals and parents (of the students) for each participant of the Camp, because it took place during the school year.

Three schools implemented their small project initiatives with the help of CEETZ staff. During the process of project realization, we had support from the principals of all three schools.

We involved government representatives in the project, and during the project exhibition one member of the committee was from the cantonal Ministry of Spatial Planning and Environmental Protection, as well as one representative from the NGO Ekopot and two from CEETZ.

Summarize the project performance focusing on the main achievement and main conclusion.

The project was separated into three main phases and each phase had one main activity:

  • I phase: exhibition of the Environmental sections works; we organized an exhibition where Environmental Sections had the chance to present their work from the previous three months.
  • II phase: the Spring Camp; we organized the Camp, within which we organized environmental education and education for project-writing.
  • III phase: Small project implementation in three schools; three small projects were implemented.
Highlight here any issue you want to bring to the attention of the donor (follow-up etc.)

We met with some problems in communication with Brčko district schools. These schools unfortunately didn’t get enough information during the project and the monitoring process of the first phase wasn’t conducted properly by the Brčko representative we hired as a project assistant there. Because of that, schools from Brčko had less-prepared presentations at the first phase exhibition than those from Tuzla. But without Brčko schools we couldn’t achieve our stated goals for inter-entity cooperation, and so included them in the Camp selection despite their poor performance at the exhibition.

To alleviate matters, during the second phase of the project, we replaced the project assistant from Brčko with a teacher working with the environmental sections from all three inovlved Brčko schools. It was a good move because the First ES Brčko eventually went on to win first place at the small project initiative competiotion during the Camp.
ES Jala was involved in the first project phase and its Environmental section achieved very good results, tying for first place at the first phase exhibition. But this school unfortunately had to relinquish its slots for Camp participation because some other important competitions were organized at the same time and their students had to go there instead.

Otherwise, we had some small problems during the Spring Camp when two students separately got fevers. To make sure for their safety and to prevent sickness spreading to the other participants, we unfortunately had to send them home early, though all were sad to see them go.

Results and Performance

Project objectives: achievement, impact and relevance 

Outline the purpose of the project and describe its impact answering the following questions:

To what extent were the main project objectives achieved?

During the project realization we achieved the main project objectives through the following activities:

  • Organizing of the project competition and Spring Camp. We implemented Workshops covering different environmental issues at the Camp, during which students showed a great interest during the work in groups and discussions.
  • During this project, members of the Environmental Sections gave their voluntary contribution, especially during the small project implementation.
  • We achieved removal of lines of separation between different religious, ethnic and age groups by realization of the Spring Camp. During the Camp all participants both cooperated and socialized without any problems or prejudices.
How effectively did the outputs/results contribute to the achievement of project objectives?

The results achieved by the project were quite effective in contributing to the intended objectives. The schools all have come to better value the importance of quality environmental education. The teachers and school directors were quite impressed with the high motivation attained by their students during all phases of the project. And obviously the students themselves came to strongly appreciate environmental education, through their own work in the first phase, the practical/theoretical training during the Camp and the concrete application of their education during the third phase.

Likewise, the students learned the importance of civil activism, even among the young. Especially during the first and third phases they learned that their actions really can make a difference, while in the camp they discovered a wealth of other possibilities for putting knowledge into action. A direct result is that besides those who asked for advice on what they could do at home, a further 15 students signed up to volunteer at CEETZ, taking as models some of the camp leaders who themselves had started off as CEETZ volunteers.

Finally the groups of kids and teachers all learned to better see past societal lines of division, like gender, ethnicity, religion and age. All were treated as equals, no matter what background they came from; boys and girls played and worked together, and age differences, though obviously small amongst the students, made absolutely no difference in who people associated with.

Which benefits have accrued to the society (sector)?

The most obvious benefits to society were gained by the schools that took part in the project. We helped these schools with the realization of various environmental activities (first phase), we organized the Spring Camp (second phase) and helped them to implement their own small projects (third phase). The total amount for the small project initiatives was 1000 KM. The schools submitted projects of their own design which they wanted to implement. The money was distributed in the following way:

  • First ES Brčko won 350 KM for first place, implementing their small project initiative “Recycling”,
  • ES Novi Grad won 330 KM for second place, implementing their small project initiative “Environmental class room”,
  • ES Slavinovići won 320 KM for third place, implementing their small project initiative “From composting to health”.
Besides the schools benefiting directly, there were other definite societal benefits. First that the environment itself was somewhat improved by all the individual schools’ activities, especially during the first and third phases. Secondly a sustainable benefit to society was created in that the eco-consciousness was awakened and improved among a few generations of students in two different cities. In both cases the immediate impact may be small, but in both cases the effect should provide a kernel that could grow larger in years to come.

What might have happened without the project?

Without this project, all of the students would not have gained the intense education, sense of voluntarism or opportunity for inter-entity cooperation. And though the students might have still been active in their environmental sections without the project, more than likely fewer would have been so active and motivation among those who were active would be lower. Also their overall environmental impact would be much smaller, probably limited to the most common, uncreative activities that environmental section typically do, like flower-planting or picking up litter. Instead, these students (and their teachers) learned to expand their concepts of environmental protection and to understand the real potential of their influence as active members of civil society.

What positive and negative side effects did the project have?

Positive effects of the project:

  • Increased participation of the Environmental section members for finding concrete solutions to environmental problems,
  • Students and teachers were directly involved in the project activities on a practically equal level of decision-making,
  • Better cooperation between CEETZ and schools, including several schools with which we hadn’t cooperated beforehand,
  • New contacts and cooperation between CEETZ and Brčko District, with which we had almost no previous cooperation before this project,
  • New personal relationships and friendships built up between Camp participants, in particular crossing inter-entity borders,
  • 15 students interested to become volunteers for future environmental activities of CEETZ.
Negative effects:

Despite the fact that the students missed out on one week of school, we can conclude that project didn’t have any negative effect on their education. The schools’ teachers and directors selected only the best students active in their respective Environmental sections to participate in the Camp, which itself was taken to be a sort of reward for their good work. The teachers informed us that the students would take additional classes after the Camp to make up for missed lessons.

Did the project address needs that were relevant to the main problems identified?

The project definitely addressed the problems identified beforehand. Though there is still a lack of proper institutionalized environmental education, this project was only meant to start discussion of the topic. The project provided a very positive example of one way how to tangibly integrate these necessary issues into modern education. The students and their parents got a better idea of how important and fun environmental education can realistically be. The teachers and school directors did likewise, but also saw how motivated the students were to learn more during all phases of the project. This could be taken as a basis for addressing the need to bring more environmental education into the classroom.
Simultaneously the project participants were given an appropriate opportunity to socialize across inter-entity borders. Because Bosnia and Herzegovina is so fragmented along ethnic/religious lines, many people, especially the young, lack any chance to get to know other groups and thus break down stereotypes. The project provided ample opportunity for people to build up strong personal relationships and friendships, irrespective of background, gender, age or other society-made lines of division.

Implementation of planned activities

Describe the activities that were carried out.

Output 1: Selection and motivation of the partner schools to be included in the project

At the beginning of the project we sent invitations to 23 elementary schools from Tuzla and 7 schools from Brčko District. We received answers from 10 schools from Tuzla and 3 from Brčko. We involved all 13 schools in the project (Tuzla – ES Mejdan, ES Lipnica, ES Slavinovići, ES Kreka, ES Pazar, ES Novi Grad, ES Jala, ES Pasci, ES Solina and ES Tušanj; Brčko – First ES Brčko, ES Donji Berzik and ES Ražljevo Brčko). Following their replies, we held meetings with all 13 schools.

Output 2: Environmental Section Contest among schools, for participation in the Camp

We organized introductory meetings with the environmental sections’ leaders, where we presented the goals, plans, rules and duties of the project. Two informational meetings were held: first for the Tuzla representatives and secondly for Brčko. The project assistant from Brčko took part in the meeting in Tuzla. At these meetings we discussed about activities to be implemented in the coming three months.

The Environmental sections each chose one activity to work on for the coming period. We monitored their work via telephone calls and visits to the schools. After the students finished their activities we organized an exhibition where:

  • Each environmental section presented their own activities, and was introduced to the activities of the other schools
  • CEETZ selected schools for participation in the Camp
All work and presentations at the exhibition were judged by a committee of four members. They evaluated the work of the environmental sections and made decided which schools should participate further in the project.

The members of committee were:

  1. Mirsad Bakalović, Ministry for Urban Planning and Environmental Protection of Tuzla canton
  2. Mevlida Rovčanin, NGO Ekopot Tuzla
  3. Džemila Agić, the Center for Ecology and Energy Tuzla
  4. George Stiff, the Center for Ecology and Energy Tuzla
Since all the schools showed such hard work and at least were quite active in preparing for the exhibition, it turned out to be quite hard to exclude a single one of them. Therefore we let all 12 schools participate in the Spring Camp, though the schools had a different number of participants at the Camp, more or less depending on which place they took in the exhibition as judged by the committee.

47 students participated at the Spring Camp.

Output 3: Logistic preparations for the Camp

After visiting Smetovi (near Zenica) and Muška voda (near Kladanj) we decided to organize the Spring Camp at Muška voda. We concluded Muška voda it was a better choice for organizing the Camp because the hotel there had better amenities and facilities, a more natural environment and is located much closer to both Tuzla and Brčko. We organized additional meeting with hotel staff focusing on important preparations and planning for the Camp.

We organized accommodation, supplies and transportation for all 59 Spring Camp participants. The Camp lasted 7 days and 6 nights.

For technical reasons, we organized separate transport for the Camp participants to/from Tuzla and to/from Brčko. We also had one private car available during the Camp in case of emergencies.

10 camp leaders, the project manager and the project administrator took part in leading the Spring Camp, for whom we organized 2 Workshops:

  1. First aid Workshop: we introduced them to health issues which they could experience.
  2. Workshop about the rules, activities and expected results of the camp.
Output 4: Printed materials

During project realization we printed the following promotional material:

  • 75 T-shirts with the Spring Camp logo
  • 75 hats with the Spring Camp logo
  • 1000 brochures about the project
Output 5: The Camp, its management, activities and content

The camp was very rich in content, including environmental education, sports, creative work and fun games/activities.

The Camp participants took part in the following educational workshops:

  • Water presevation,
  • Waste issues and recycling,
  • Composting,
  • Energy use and air pollution,
  • Energy efficiency and renewable energy sources
During the Camp, the participants had to write small project ideas they would later wish to implement in their own schools.

Output 6: Small-project initiatives for school Environmental Sections

We organized a 30-minute meeting every day at the Spring Camp where students could ask Camp leaders and CEETZ staff about writing small projects or coming up with ideas.
The three winning small project initiatives selected by the Camp participants were implemented after the Camp. We held one meeting with representatives from all three schools where we clarified the rules and responsibilities.

The following three projects were implemented:

  1. “Recycling”, First ES Brčko
  2. “Environmental class room”, ES Novi Grad Tuzla
  3. “From composting to health”, ES Slavinovići Tuzla.
The Environmental sections had 6 weeks in which to implement their small projects. During this period we evaluated their work and helped guide them to realize their activities.

After the small project implementation we organized a small exhibition for them to present their activities and results from the prior 6 weeks. Students and teachers from all 12 schools took part in the exhibition.

Output 7: Evaluation of the project

  • We conducted evaluations during each of the three project phases,
  • We wrote and sent 4 financial and 4 narrative reports to OSCE.
To what extent were the intended outputs/results achieved?

We achieved the following results:

  1. Cooperation with 10 elementary schools from Tuzla and 3 from Brčko District
  2. Competition and exhibition of the environmental sections was held,
  3. We prepared staff, chose a location and selected participants for the Camp,
  4. Promotional material: 75 T-shirts and 75 hats printed, 1000 brochures about the project printed,
  5. We organized a Camp for 7 days and 6 nights,
  6. Implemented 3 small project initiatives,
  7. We evaluated 3 project phases.
Did unforeseen activities impact the project?

During the project we didn’t have unplanned activities, but we had a little variation on project:

  • We worked with 13 schools instead of the 10 schools planned by the project proposal.
  • We planed to take 5 participants from each school but we took different numbers of participants, because we included more schools.
Analyze how efficiently the planned activities were carried out (including main implementation steps/phases):

I project phase: exhibition of work by the environmental sections
  • Financial sources that were planned for food and transport were not really sufficient.
  • Even so, this phase was implemented as planned by the project proposal.
II project phase: Spring Camp
  • We concluded after the fact that probably only 5 days for the Camp would be necessary in the future.
  • Nevertheless, this phase was implemented like it was planned by the project proposal.
III project phase: small project initiatives
  • We needed more financial sources for this activity than we planned. During the small project writing at Camp, students had to plan with quite low budgets
  • We had problems with implementation of these projects because that period took place at the end of school year when students have a lot of other duties to attend to.
  • Still, this phase was implemented like it was planned by project.
This is the same for all three phases of the project:
  • Other resources were sufficient (staff, institutions, management). The terms distribution of “inputs” and “results” were sufficient.
  • Project duration was sufficient for the project implementation.
  • The CEETZ team implemented all project activities and OSCE gave financial support for a project, expert’s support and conducted monitoring. CEETZ sent information about planned and achieved results to OSCE through periodical reports, phone calls and E-mail contact.
  • We implemented all activities like we planned by the project proposal.
Conclusions and Recommendations 

Draw main conclusions from the project and its implementation, including critical issues and implementation problems. 

The project passed very well and we can conclude that this way of education and communication between young people is very efficient for solving environmental issues. We met some small problems during the project but we solved those problems at the root. The problems came from poor communication between CEETZ and Brčko schools but we solved this problem by replacing the project assistant from Brčko District who was doing an inadequate job. We had problems with small project implementation because ES Novi Grad didn’t have a sufficient amount of money for realization of their project. This school used its own financial sources and implemented their small project in a proper way. During the project we got a suggestion that we should involve more environmental section teachers at the Camp.

To what extent did the OSCE’s involvement through the project provide an added value?

We achieved the project goals with the help and financial support of OSCE.

If applicable, highlight here the project’s contribution to cross-cutting issues such as:

Participation and ownership by beneficiaries, civil society, etc.

We used resources of elementary schools during the project. Especially we used those resources during the small project implementation because schools implemented small project in their own schoolyards. At the beginning of the project, schools used classrooms, school materials (paper, pencils…) and infrastructure for the first phase activities.

Environmental sustainability.

The project achieved a large environmental benefit because it was a project about raising environmental awareness. Very good results were achieved at some schools like ES Lipnica, because that school didn’t have environmental section at all before this project, but after we sent them an invitation for participation in the project, ES Lipnica made an environmental section. The environmental section from this school had very good results during the project. The project had very positive effects at other schools too, because these schools started to solve more concrete environmental issues in their schools.

Socio-cultural suitability (consideration of socio-cultural diversity).

The project participants were from different social-cultural groups but we didn’t highlight such differences during the project implementation. Such differences were especially invisible during the Camp realization because relations between students from Tuzla and Brčko were very good and positive.

Impact on gender relations and/or involvement of women.

We had both female and male participants throughout the project. The project manager and assistant from Brčko are both female, while the other participants (Camp leaders and students) are both female and male. Though most of the teachers in charge of the schools’ environmental sections are women, that is to be expected considering the fact that most elementary school teachers are women. Even so, we strived to make sure our target groups were gender-balanced as much as possible.

Effects on vulnerable groups (e.g. youth, the elderly, minorities).

The biggest benefits from the project were gained by young people because they were the primary target group of the project. During student selection we strove to have participants from all groups included, insisting on a mix of boys and girls, and where possible a mix of ethnic/religious backgrounds (we had Bosniak, Croat, Serb and Roma participants at the camp).

Donor visibility

OSCE wished from the very beginning to not be mentioned as providing any kind of support to the project, so we didn’t promote them. However we did promote the involvement of the US government in supporting this project. However, since this project lacked many kinds of promotional materials, we only mentioned this support on the brochures. Otherwise we also mentioned their support in the presentations and media work we made for the project.

Give recommendations, answering the following questions:

What are the positive and negative lessons learnt?

Positive:

  • The students really are motivated to learn more about the environment, ignored any kind of societal divisions and that they wish both to be active and to make a positive impact.
  • It’s a very good idea to include teachers among the Camp staff since they have such useful experience in working with children at this age, but at the same time younger staff at the Camp are important to show a positive role model easier for the students to relate to than a teacher.
  • Students participating in the Camp were incredibly high-spirited to be there, and so more similar Camps must definitely take place.
Negative:
  • Working with schools farther away from us makes it more difficult to actively monitor their activities without a motivated assistant to help properly.
  • Working with such faraway schools makes transportation a difficult issue to work with for each project activity in which their representatives must participate.
What recommendations can be made for the implementation of future projects?

Recommendations for the implementation of a similar project:

  • The teachers in charge of the environmental sections should be more involved, as well as other school administrators, because it would be better to increase supervision of the students and their work during each phase of the project, even during the Camp.
  • Work with a small number of schools, for example only to include 10 schools as originally planned, or even eight perhaps. Plus it may be good to have a slightly greater balance of schools, like a third to half from Brčko/Republika Srpska, instead of just a quarter.
  • A shorter camp would likely be sufficient for the activities, perhaps only 5-6 days.
  • More financial resources should be allowed for the realization of the small project initiatives.
  • More financial resources are required for the exhibitions.
  • Also, the realization of the Camp requires more financing, considering that costs for accommodation, food and transport were barely sufficient, and at least the hotel has already stated it will increase prices next year.
  • More active media work would help promote and spread the goals of the project.
Can concrete future project ideas be recommended?

Several new ideas can come from this project. The most obvious and direct one is simply that more of these camps should be implanted in the future. With such a camp occurring each year, then the students would be more highly motivated, knowing they might participate.

Taking on some ideas of the camp, a project could be developed to even more actively work with local environmental sections at an even deeper level. One such project has already been submitted in which environmental sections around Tuzla Canton would be tapped for focused education on energy usage and renewable sources (especially solar energy) as a means to combat climate change locally. This project, on which we are still awaiting support, was designed to provide a model on which discussions might begin to reform the education system in BiH to include more relevant issues and modern approaches.
Otherwise, other projects could be developed focusing more specifically on the other project goals. Some project could be created to especially encourage civil activism among youth, or to promote inter-entity cooperation for solving mutual problems

How are the results going to be sustained in the future? What is the long-term difference the project has made? 

The project results are already being sustained. The students already are more active in environmental issues, civil activism and inter-entity cooperation. But to make sure it continues we plan to implement further projects that are relevant to these topics. As already mentioned, these include more Camps, education policy-work and promotion of activism among young people. As for financial sustainability, we plan to seek further support for these endeavors, eventually including relevant local ministries and other appropriate government authorities as they become more capable of taking part.

The project made the following long-term differences:

  • The Camp participants changed their attitude about ecology because they realized the potential impact if they work on more sustainable and concrete environmental issues,
  • Motivated and invigorated current environmental sections to be even more active,
  • Promoted the creation of environmental sections in schools; in particular this project was responsible for a totally new environmental section being founded at ES Lipnica,
  • Successful cooperation between CEETZ and schools, especially new contacts, like those in Brčko,
  • New personal relationships between Camp participants.
  • Civil activism and environmental awareness among youth, in particular for those who were eager enough to sign up with CEETZ to volunteer.