The Bic River Initiative

One of the most degraded and polluted rivers of Moldova is the Bic river, a tributary of the Nistru river, in the basin of which is living about one million people from Calarasi, Straseni , Ialoveni Anenii Noi rayons and Chisinau municipality. The degradation of the river and the high level of pollution are the results of careless attitude and indifference of people, economic agents, local public and central authorities.

In this context, in December 2011, the National Environmental Center in collaboration with the Agency for Regional Development Center launched the Initiative for Ecological Rehabilitation of Bic river. The priority of the initiative was to mobilize a greater number of stakeholders in the process of saving the river, which currently can be classified as a dead one. The initiative has a complex character and involves the Ministry of Environment, State Ecological Inspectorate, Agency "Apele Moldovei", National Center for Public Health, local authorities, Ecological Inspections, rayonal public health centers, educational institutions, NGOs, mass-media.

In the initial phase, the National Environmental Center has consulted about 50 stakeholders from private, public state and local sector, a series of organisations and donors to find out what is their attitude and interest to get involved in such a campaign. These consultations showed increased interest of the majority who were consulted towards the initiative and the willingness to take part in the process of saving the Bic river.

Creation and functioning of Bic Basin Council 

A first important step of the initiative was the creation of Bic Basin Council, which was constituted in February 2012 out of 15 representatives (Local Public Authorities, NGOs, competent authorities and water users). The Council meets once in three months according to the Regulation.
Having the attributions of the Technical Secretariat of Bic Basin Council, the National Environmental Center is facilitating the exchange of information between the members, is keeping the minutes of each meeting, and is sending invitations and letters to each member of the Council to various events.

Meanwhile, NEC has developed the Report on the Environmental Situation in the basin of Bic River to further develop the Management Plan and solve environmental problems in the basin, which along with an appeal to declare the basin of Bic river as an ecological catastrophe zone, was presented to the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova in March 2013. The report was consulted with all the mayors who activate in each village and town in the basin of Bic river and improved. It was officially launched in June 2013 within a meeting with all competent bodies.

Communication campaign in the basin of Bic River 

The National Environmental Center team also carries out a large information and awareness campaign in basin of Bic river targeting different groups. Though the pollution problems of the river are multiple and complex, at their basis has always been and stand the attitude of all the actors that live in the river basin, expressed by their behavior towards the river. Looking at the overall situation in the basin, we can easily conclude that the change of attitude is the key for the ecological rehabilitation of the river. In this respect, in collaboration with the NGO and Young and Free, there was developed the concept of communication campaign in the basin of Bic River. This campaign aims at changing the attitudes towards the river and the serious problems that affect and jeopardize our future.

Cleaning campaigns in the basin of Bic river 

Later, in April, 2013, there was organized a big cleaning campaign in the basin of Bic river. The action mobilized about 2000 persons and it was organized in cooperation with the local and central public authorities as well as the schools in the basin of Bic river.The action was replicated in September 2013 which mobilized about 3000 people.

A very important component within the initiative is the collaboration with the youth who live in the basin of Bic river. 

 First Youth Forum of Bic river basin 

Thus, on March 24 2013, about 500 young people joined in the first Youth Forum of Bic river basin. Subsequently, on April 27, 2013, about 2000 students were mobilized in the cleaning campaign of Bic river. 

First flash mob for the protection of Bic river

Later, on 29 May 2013, a group of 200 young people from Chisinau municipality and Calarasi, Straseni and Anenii Noi rayons organized with the support of the National Environmental Center the first flash mob for the protection of Bic river. An unique scene was performed in front of the Government of the Republic of Moldova in the Grand National Assembly Square of Chisinau. The goal of the action was to show the causes of river pollution, warning that all of us are in danger as long as the local and central authorities will not get involved in solving them. The action lasted 20 minutes and reflected the most severe cases of river pollution in Chisinau, which relate mainly to the activity of economic entities, which discharge untreated wastewaters directly into the river. They simulated the pollution of the river placing a black canvas over a blue one, which symbolized the fact that the river is almost dead. Waste water pipes were also included as the main element of the flash mob. The participants, holding blue and red balloons, have completed the action aligning to form the message: "♥ Bic river".

Ecological expedition  

Following the series of activities, which involve the participation of youth, the National Environmental Center, with the support of US Embassy in Chisinau, organized an ecological expedition for 25 youth on Bic River. The slogan of the expedition was: “Love your river!”

The expedition lasted 8 days (7-15 July 2013). The aim of the activity was familiarize the youth with the factors that contribute to the pollution of the river. It started in Temeleuti village, Calarasi rayon and ended in Gura Bicului village, Anenii Noi rayon. For one week, the participants walked the whole course of the river, which has a length of 155 km and studied the sources of pollution.

Press conference on ecological expedition on Bic river: "Love Your River!”

Following the expedition on Bic river, the National Environmental Center together with the participants organized a press conference and presented the results of the action. During the event, there was presented the real situation in the basin of Bic river according to the observations done and followed by the results of biological monitoring which was carried out in each rayon of the basin. There was also presented the Declaration of the participants at the expedition on Bic river. Thus, the youth stated that the most polluted area of the river starts in Chisinau and it gets worse in Anenii Noi, where they could not find any macroinvertebrates. It is worth mentioning that during the press conference the attitude of the Deputy Ministry of Environment, Mr. Lazar Chirica was presented who criticized this activity, mentioning that this was a childish game and it was not coordinated with the Ministry of Environment. The event was attended by many media companies, such as Jurnal TV, Canal 3 TV, Moldova 1 TV, Plus 2 TV, information portal in Moldova, several radio channels.

The flash mob Caravan "Love Your River!”

Following the flash mob which was organized on 29 May 2013 in Chisinau, the National Environmental Center decided to replicate this successful experience and organized a flash mob caravan with the slogan “Love you river!” in all 4  rayons of Bic river basin as well as in Chisinau municipality. The main goal of the Caravan was to invite the population to Bic river Festival with the same slogan on 29 September 2013 in Temeleuti village, Calarasi rayon - the place the Bic river originates from. The action gathered about 1000 young people who played the story of Bic river. They showed the way the river is born, then how it becomes polluted as well as the way it could be saved. In the end of the action, all the participants and the passers-by joined in a traditional dance, which is called “hora”. This action symbolizes the power of people in the basin of the river, joined for cause, in this case for the salvation of Bic river.  When the action was done, the volunteers distributed invitation flyers to the festival to every participants of the flash mob.

Thus during  a week before the festival,  by means of these actions, the youth who study in the schools in the basin of Bic river, were inviting people to Bic river festival. The schedule of the caravan was the following:

• 20.09.2013  – Straseni town;

• 23.09.2013 - Ialoveni town;

• 24.09.2013 – Chisinau municipality;

• 25.09.2013 – Anenii Noi town;

• 26.09.2013 – Calarasi town.

 When the scenario was developed, the National Environmental Center in cooperation with the Educational Departments of every rayon in the basin of Bic river gathered the students who showed interest in this activity and made a series of rehearsals of the flash mobs in each rayon concerned. Moreover, with the help of the councils of each rayon, there was established the place for the action and the traffic was stopped during the flash mob on the day it took place. During the Caravan, the National Environmental Center in cooperation with the mayoralties and Rayoanal Councils also installed road signs with the message “Love your river!” in Calarasi, Straseni,  Ialoveni, Anenii Noi towns and Chisinau municipality on the bridges crossing the Bic river. The events were attended by the local authorities as well as by the young people who participated in the expedition on Bic river.

It was a pleasure for the NEC team to work with the young people who showed interest in the initiative and were very actively involved in the preparation process of the event.

 Bic river Festival “Love your River!”

Starting at the foot of the highest hill in Moldova and watched by the big oaks of Codrii (the biggest forests in Moldova), the spring of  Bic river hosted the First Festival of Bic river entitled "Love Your River!", on Sunday, September 29, 2013 in Temeleuti village, Calarasi rayon . Around 1,000 guests and participants of different ages attended the event and celebrated together the first birthday of Bic river.

Located in a lovely meadow, near Bic river, the town of the festival seemed detached from an old fairy tale with specific Moldavian tone. Surrounded by majestic hills of emerald green colour, under a blue sky, woven with golden rays of sunshine, people who came to the festival could have a virtual journey in time, and live for a while the life of Moldavian ancestors who used to gather on Sundays and dance “horas”, traditional  Moldavian dances, spending there a real good time. During the Bic river festival there were performing folk bands of Calarasi , Straseni, Anenii Noi and Ialoveni rayons , but also national Moldavian stars. The festival was sectioned in several areas:

The most skilled craftsmen organized different exhibitions and also sold authentic traditional items. Children have experienced very creative moments while participating in handicraft workshops manufacturing their own items in aquatic style with polymeric clay, under the guidance of best specialists in this field. Those who had attended the festival had a chance to admire an aero-performance carried out by the sports Aero Club Calarasi. Young people interested in radio games had the opportunity to practice this kind of sports which was organized by Radio-Sport Club "Azimut".  An improvised cinema was organised, where those interested in pollution issues of Bic river had the opportunity to find out more information about the current situation of  Bic river. The movies were developed by the participants of Bic river Basin Youth Forum held on 24 March 2013. Moreover, a photo exhibition of the participants of the Youth Forum was held during the festival. The cinema was arranged in a military tent which was given free of charge by a partner of the National Environmental Center, the Ministry of Defence of Moldova.

Being at its first edition, the festival has managed to gather about 1000 people, people who really care about the river. We believe that the second edition will raise more awareness and involve more people in saving the river, including a better participation of Chisinau municipality

The partners of the event were the following:  "aqua unIQa " (donating 600 l of water for the artists participating in the Festival), the Bic Basin Council , Mayoralty of Temeleuti village (host of the event), Calarasi Rayon Council (arranging the road of access to the event and arranging electricity for the event, participating with 7 folk groups at the Festival and handicrafts exhibitions), Straseni Rayon Council (participating with 6 folk groups and handicrafts exhibitions), Ialoveni Rayon Council (participating with 3 groups of artists), Anenii Noi Rayon Council (participating with 1 folk group and other artists), Ministry of Defence (donating military tent), the company of organizing events " IMAS Muzical" (arranging the stage for artists and the tents for exhibitions and fair), entertainment company " Youbesc" (developing the scenario of the event), Agency for Regional Development Center (printing the brochure of the event “Love your river”), NGO" Ecosfera" (arranging the participation of the radio club “Azimut” in the event).

Media Partners: UNIMEDIA, CIVIC.MD, Teleradio- Moldova (Moldova 1 TV company, Radio-Moldova, TV 7 - national TV company).

It is worth mentioning that we had a lot of volunteers (more than 1200 young people), young people from various lyceums, which helped distributing the information during the flash mobs as well as during the festival.

In addition, a series of promotion materials were developed, including flyers, announcements, brochures, banners, video which were distributed in each rayon of the basin and Chisinau municipality. 

The promo movie of the festival, which was posted on TV and in Internet could be seen below: