EASST Georgia The Partnership for Road Safety with Ecovision and Elva Community Engagement have launched their innovative citizen engagement project titled “Let Georgia Breathe”, with support of the East West Management Institute and USAID with the aim to make Georgia’s air cleaner and healthier. This project is the first of its kind to be implemented in Georgia, with volunteers such as children, scientists, government representatives and members of the public using “Air Quality Eggs” to track air quality levels in their local area.
The results are being automatically recorded, analyzed and visualized by Elva’s online portal: http://aqe.elva.org:3020/index.html. Users of the website can hover over a map marker to see the air quality at a given location and use the website to learn more about air pollution and its impact.
The air quality sensors used by volunteers to monitor air quality across Georgia
Urban air pollution is one of Georgia’s most pressing public health issues. It shortens the life of urban citizens in Georgia by 12 months, and causes more than 40,000 deaths each year throughout urban areas in the post-Soviet space. Studies reveal that in Tbilisi air pollution also leads to a heightened number of cardiovascular diseases and a significantly increased number of chronic allergies such as bronchial asthma, dermatitis and others, especially among children between 12 and 19 years of age. “Let Georgia Breathe” is a campaign to attract attention to this problem.
The main contributory factor towards Georgia’s heightened air pollution is road traffic, which accounts for 71% of all air pollution. A lot of cars in Georgia are old and badly maintained. This worsens air quality levels, particularly in densely populated areas like Tbilisi. Low public awareness is another important factor causing increased pollution. For example, approximately 85% of drivers do not know that they are able to reduce fuel consumption by 25-30 % by simply changing their driving style. Additionally, there is a lack of education and advocacy campaigns to raise awareness about air quality issues.
The Partnership for Road Safety will convey the results produced by the air quality sensors to the public via a comprehensive advocacy campaign that will focus on the use of alternative means of transportation, as well as the advantages of increasing fuel efficiency by improving driving styles. Furthermore, a series of policy recommendations to make Georgia’s air cleaner will be drafted and presented to policy makers, the business community and other relevant stakeholders.
A short film about the project (in Georgian) can be viewed here: