Open Data Helps Fight Pollution in Ukraine’s Waterways

Speeches Shim

Monday, November 16, 2020
Oleksandr Koval, the head of the NGO, Green Generation, which helps organize improvements to Ukraine’s waste management system.
USAID's Transparency and Accountability in Public Administration and Services (TAPAS) activity

A USAID-supported interactive map called Chysta Voda allows Ukrainians to monitor the water quality.

 

Oleksandr Koval is concerned with the state of the environment and has actively supported environmental issues for more than two years. Together with other eco-activists, he founded and leads the NGO, Green Generation, to help organize improvements to Ukraine’s waste management system.

“Ukrainians generally don’t think about the quality of the water they are drinking or in which their kids are bathing,” says Mr. Koval. “Ukrainians rarely pay attention to these fundamental environmental issues. Neither private companies nor the government allocate money to providing emissions filters or repairing waste treatment equipment. They believe that the likelihood of negative repercussions are slim.”

In Ukraine, it’s cheaper to simply pay an inspector a bribe than it is to put money towards the cost of a water treatment system, Oleksandr explains.

Hearing in the news about Chysta Voda (Clean Water), an interactive map based on open data about water pollution levels in Ukraine’s rivers, excited Oleksandr.  Chysta Voda was developed by TEXTY and Ukraine’s State Agency for Water Resources (SAWR), with support from the former State Agency for eGovernance (now the Ministry of Digital Transformation) under the joint USAID/UKaid program, Transparency and Accountability in Public Administration and Services (TAPAS).

Chysta Voda features an interactive map that anyone can use to view and monitor the quality of water in Ukraine’s rivers, including the Dnipro, Dnister, and Southern Buh. The map provides up-to-date information and historical data from the last five years for more than 400 water quality monitoring stations. The map includes data on positive water qualities, such as oxygen levels, and pollutants, including phosphates, nitrites, nitrates, and others. The map also identifies which companies are responsible for generating the most pollution in rivers and the volume of contaminated water that is produced as a direct result.

In the past, environmentalists had to submit paper-based requests to government agencies in order to obtain information about water pollution. It was not uncommon for weeks to pass before receiving the requested information, at which point the data could already be outdated. At times, requests to government agencies would simply go unanswered.

Oleksandr Koval is now an active user of the site. He believes that a simple tool like Chysta Voda has the potential to draw a lot of attention to problems with Ukraine’s rivers because the data it contains is seen and understood by everyone.

Thanks to the development of Chysta Voda, the government can no longer ignore water treatment issues. Even the national media has cited data from the Chysta Voda map.

According to Oleksandr, in a country as industrialized as Ukraine, it’s important that citizens pay close attention to the waste that is generated by manufacturing companies. Oleksandr and other members of Green Generation continue to promote clean water environmentalism at events and through publications using Chysta Voda to show young people that open data can help improve their environment.    

Last updated: November 27, 2020

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