With one faucet of their finger, Iraqis can now report environmental pollution plaguing their communities on a new app, and start campaigns encouraging the government to take motion.
Activist Wissam Jaafar Radi lately launched the app, The Environmental Platform, in a groundbreaking effort to fight the devastating results of widespread air pollution within the nation.
“The thought behind the app was to make it simpler for citizens to be a half of the environment protection system,” he informed The National.
Mr Radi, who heads the Baghdad-based Tawasul for Youth Empowerment NGO, believes that elevating consciousness among residents can be a game-changer in the fight in opposition to air pollution, and could save Iraq from an environmental disaster.
“I believe that elevating awareness among citizens could be a highly effective device to pressure the federal government and decision-makers into taking meaningful actions,” he stated.
“Pollution in Iraq is catastrophic,” warned Mr Radi. “It impacts each aspect of our lives, from our health and well-being to the destruction of our pure ecosystems. We should act now to guard our homeland.”
Through the user-friendly app, Iraqis cannot solely report pollution-related issues but in addition pinpoint their actual location on an interactive map.
But the app goes beyond just reporting; it serves as a rallying platform the place activists and anxious residents can launch focused campaigns to combat environmental issues.
From air air pollution to water contamination and improper waste disposal, strange Iraqis can play a job in demanding extra motion from decision-makers.
A devoted group verifies stories carefully earlier than publishing them on the app, and making ready detailed assessments to be sent directly to the relevant authorities departments.
“We need to ensure that the government receives correct and evidence-backed info,” Mr Radi said. “This will bolster our struggle against air pollution and make it more durable for them to turn a blind eye.”
Mr Radhi’s brainchild has gained swift and important traction with thousands of Iraqis becoming a member of the movement to fight in opposition to pollution.
Between 50 to 70 reports are sent everyday on the NGO’s Facebook web page and app, he mentioned.
“You can’t think about the extent of the pollution nationwide. Every 50 to 100 kilometres there’s an environmental drawback,” he mentioned.
Reports obtained up to now have included complaints of untreated sewage and manufacturing facility waste being discharged into rivers, unlicensed melting metallic and chemical factories, crude oil spillages and pollution caused by oil companies, he added.
“This is a game-changer!” Ahmed Abdullah Al Shalash, head of the Farmers Association in Salaheddin province, north of Baghdad, informed The National. “We lastly have a voice, and it is being heard. Together, we are ready to reclaim our environment.”
When ISIS overran large components of northern and western Iraq in mid-2014, they extracted crude oil from a variety of fields to secure funds needed for his or her operations.
Among them were the Alas and Ajeel oilfields in the Hamrin mountains in northern Iraq, about 15 kilometres away from Mr Al Shalash’s hometown, Al Alam. The militants constructed giant earthen basins for accumulating crude oil before loading it into tankers.
“That allowed the crude oil to seep into the soil through cracks, and the rainwater also carried it in the valleys to find its approach to the agricultural areas in and around Al Alam,” Mr Al Shalash stated.
“Since then, each time it rains our lands and wells get damaged. We have been interesting for assist, to no avail,” he added.
This 12 months, no less than 500 hectares of wheat and dozens of wells have been damaged, causing financial losses of up to 15 million Iraqi dinar (about $11,000) for each farmer, he said.
An advocacy marketing campaign on the environmental app options putting footage and movies of the air pollution, encouraging individuals to sign a petition.
Those efforts seem to have paid off as Mr Al Shalash is set to meet Iraq’s Environment Minister Nazar Amedi to discuss the problems raised.
Decades of warfare, UN-imposed sanctions, political and security instability and mismanagement have pushed pollution in Iraq to worrying levels.
The nation is affected by oil air pollution, discharging untreated waste into waterways and even nuclear and dioxin contamination.
“The environmental situation in Iraq could be very bad. We are going to face an actual disaster and there’s a shortage in reliable data from the government,” Mr Radi mentioned.
Updated: August 05, 2023, 12:46 PM