The recent sharp increase of household waste on the border regions between Hungary and Romania has prompted the local authorities to find a cross-border solution to the problem. Romanian riverside settlements and some parts of the Hungarian Southern Great Plains share the problem of coping with waste.
The increased amounts of municipal waste and, in some cases, the lack of organised waste collection systems result in the appearance of illegal waste deposits at cross-border riverbanks and flood basins. This waste represents a serious environmental and health threat both locally and internationally as pollution is carried downstream for some considerable distance.
The project had as objectives:
to eliminate tons of existing illegal waste deposits and prevent future pollution; and
to raise awareness amongst the local populations on the seriousness of polluting the rivers and their immediate surroundings.
The principal activities of the project fall into three groups.
A substantial amount of waste was collected (about 5,000 tons) along the riverbanks of the rivers Tur, Krazna/Crasna, Szamos/Somefl, Berettyo/Barcu and Sebes-Koros/Criflul Repede; 83 collection containers were placed in specific points and these were emptied regularly over a period of time.
Each participating municipality was guided in creating and adhering to a Waste Management Action Plan to assist them with mapping out local waste development opportunities.
In order to evaluate the results of waste elimination and the effectiveness of containers, laboratory tests of water samples were performed. Such tests provided information about the effectiveness of the project activities in reducing pollution and waste along the riverbanks, and offered feedback to those dealing with raising awareness on the problem.
The direct outcomes of the project were less polluted riverbanks and reduced pollution of the river water in the cross-border area.
Most importantly, the awareness campaign that had been carried out along with the placement of containers are bringing about a positive change in the attitude of the local population. People will be less likely to pollute their environment as they are better informed about the various negative effects of river pollution.
Aspects of good practice
The impact of such a project on changing peoples’ attitudes across national borders is considerable and will have a long lasting effect.
Furthermore it is expected that this project will serve as a good example for other municipalities where similar projects could be generated.
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