Interview with Dea Jikia from the CDC

by Big-Jump-Team EN

Dea Jikia: Manager of Conflict and Peace Building initiatives

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Meet Dea Jikia and the CDC

Dea Jikia works at the Creative Development Center (CDC) in Georgia as the Manager of Conflict and Peace building initiatives and is involved in different local and international activities as a project coordinator and facilitator. Dea, along with the founders of the CDC, represent an initiative group that has been working on different civic initiatives since 2009 in both Georgia and internationally. She completed her bachelor’s degree in International Relations and has a master's degree in Conflict Analysis and Management. Dea has a passion for youth work issues and social activism.

The CDC is Big Jump Challenge's Georgian partner organization, and they have been instrumental to the success of the Big Jump Challenge among youth in Georgia. Find out today what has contributed to this success with one of the key players, Dea Jikia.

Blue Future book imageBJC: How did you let teams know about and get them involved in the Big Jump Challenge in Georgia?

DJ: We used internet resources and social networks, organized field visits and did presentations at schools and universities. We contacted our regional partner organizations to help us in their local areas and to involve the youth from different regions of Georgia. We also actively used media resources for popularization of this project.

BJC: It seems the Big Jump Challenge has gone viral in Georgia – what do you think contributed to this and how did you inspire teams?

DJ: Meeting people personally is always the best way of inspiring them. Our efforts to involve a lot of people in this campaign finally yielded good results and in the end Georgia registered 39 teams in total. As a result we are in first place for total number of teams participating in the Big Jump Challenge, among all the other participant countries, and we are happy about this.

We think the ways we spread information worked well (i.e. social networks and media, field trips, presentations at schools and universities, basically meeting youth in person as much as possible). Besides this, we had very motivating presentations. We informed our audiences about each step and every little detail about the project; we focused on the importance of this campaign and about the necessity of youth activism in Georgia in general. This campaign has a very different format for youth coming from Georgia compared to what they're often used to. They were able to take ownership and try to solve problems themselves, instead of only sitting in training sessions or seminars, and they become organizers of all their own events. And probably the most important point is, the project has no boundaries that might restrict our partcipants' creativity.

BJC: What would you suggest to teams across Europe for what they should do to implement effective environmental campaigns? What seems to have worked in Georgia in particular?

DJ: First of all we suggest to local youth coordinators that they need to effectively plan their campaign. As part of this, they should contact different stakeholders, organizations and public institutions, and try to involve them in the process as much as possible. We think that besides local teams' own mobilisation, it’s important to have partners in different fields and regions. It is very crucial, to show the importance of the topics in the campaign, as well as the value of the project, and how important the role of youth is in saving the earth.

For teams across Europe we recommend carrying out their actions with fun and pleasure being part of the focus and not because it is an obligation. For example, most of the Georgian teams are so passionate, they say that they don’t attend their lessons or lectures at school and instead spend all their time in planning and doing actions for the Big Jump Challenge. They are very motivated and we coordinators do our best to help and support them with technical information, suggestions, etc.

It’s important also for coordinators to be objective and not display partiality. Our teams are assured that we support everyone equally and we don’t discriminate against or play favourites with any particular team. We provide them with a transparent space and this type of support allows them to sense that each team has equal rights and the chance to win at the Big Jump Challenge.

BJC: How important do you think the competition factor has been for participants of the Big Jump Challenge in Georgia? Do you believe that this has helped with the teams displaying so much passion and creativity in all their different actions? As you said, they are so passionate, sometimes it seems like it’s all they think about, planning actions and implementing them. Do you feel they would be as motivated without the competitive factor?

DJ: We have the teams, in which members are either students of ecological faculties, or representatives of organizations working on environmental issues, as well as just active citizens, who feel a sense of social responsibility, and are actively involved in different social campaigns besides the Big Jump Challenge project. First of all this social responsibility makes them motivated.

We coordinators, have always been telling teams, that the final prize should not become the only landmark for them. They acknowledge that the problem is too important. The approaches that the Big Jump Challenge project offers them - creative expression regarding water resources protection, was an innovation for them. They became interested, saw the problem in a new way and thought about solutions to this problem in a new manner. I think that use of this creative and innovative approach in problem solving and awareness raising process was an additional source of motivation.

A visit to Brussels is really a very good opportunity for every student in Georgia, and not only for them. I think for youth, the European Rivers Parliament will become a wonderful continuation of their work. Why not, if students get an opportunity where they will be given a chance to learn more and get more experience which they then will implement in our country?! But I want to underscore, that these guys are not acting because of a prize. As I mentioned above, they feel ownership of the problem solving mechanism and now they are trying to express themselves in the best way. With this competition and with youth spirit many good things were done across the whole country.

BJC: What would you say is the ecological state of Georgian rivers and/or lakes?

DJ: Basically rivers in Georgia are polluted with nitrogen. In some cases there appears to be pollution from heavy metals, for example in the Mashavera River (Bolnisi) and Kvirila River (Chiatura, zestaponi). The rivers in the Black Sea region are polluted with oil. The main problem that Georgia faces regarding the water’s ecological condition is cleanliness. The problem is that people don’t care about the environment. Here in our country you can find rivers and lakes being used as a dump. Also the sewage systems are linked to the waters. With our current situation biological cleaning of water is not provided in our country and primary mechanical cleaning of water is ensured only in Tbilisi and Rustavi. Also it is important to mention, that awareness about the negative effects of unclean waters, or throwing garbage in rivers is very low.

BJC: What connection do Georgian people have with their rivers and/or lakes? Do they share a special link with them?

DJ: Although Georgia is a very small country, we have 26 060 Rivers, around 860 lakes and 43 water reservoirs which serve irrigation systems and hydro plants. Historically Georgia has always been a country of agriculture, even its name is connected with the land, and therefore, water was always an important source of survival for Georgian peasants. Nowadays, we still have lots of unused water resources, which could bring economic benefits to our state. Not very much hydro plant construction is in process at the moment, but there is also not enough knowledge of how this development can affect water resources as well as the ecology and climate in general.

This interview was conducted by Indrani Kar from the Big Jump Challenge Team

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