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Armenia-Azerbaijan: Environment a Mutual Concern for Young Bloggers

This post is part of our special coverage Caucasus Conflict Voices.

With most of the blogs created as part of an online project to “create socially conscious media that will impact communities across the U.S. and the Caucasus” now up and running, many of the participants from Armenia, Azerbaijan and the U.S. have already completed their first module. DOTCOM, funded by the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is implemented by Project Harmony.

Now ready to introduce themselves on their new blogs, the teenagers aged between 14-16 were asked to highlight an issue of concern in their own communities. Interestingly, while other problems were mentioned, the environment topped the list. Writing from Azerbaijan, for example, 14-year-old Shafaq is worried by the level of pollution in the waters off her native Baku.

As we know Azerbaijan is known for it's oil in all over the world. But we damage our enviroment when we drag out it. Caspian sea becomes dirty and it destroy the life in this sea. They all can die out and I want to stop it.

14-year-old Ergun is also concerned.

Pollution is the main problem. People throw litter and pollute the environment. People cut trees and build high buildings.There was a park in front of our building. Some people came and destroyed everything and built a building there.

In Armenia, 15-year-old Arpen agrees.

For me, today the most important issue is the question of improving the environment. There are more machines on the streets and that's why the air is more polluted and it's very noisy. There are few [green] bits, trees and benches.

Posting some photographs of her own school work on environmental protection, 15-year-old Lusine provides an example of how the problem is affecting her.

An issue I'm concered about my home community is the shortage of water.The population often suffers from it. As a result of that, green areas are not many. I would like to solve this problem by changing the irrigation technology because trees, flowers and grass need watering and they are not only nice but also give us oxygen and clear the polluted air. At the same time it's difficult not to have water in the houses the whole day.

Problems with the water supply also appear to be an issue in Azerbaijan, as 14-year-old Novruz explains.

[…] the main problem in my community is water problem. The drinkable water is not very clean. […]

14-year-old Yegane says factories are polluting the rivers, and Rahima, the same age, agrees.

[…] we have to solve these problems in order to live a better life. The main problem […] is […] drinkable water. Unfortunately the water we drink is not pure. We need high quality technology to clean the water. Most of the people in city use the water from the river “Kur” and the water in this river is not clean […].

But while the young citizen-journalists of Armenia and Azerbaijan are concerned about the situation, others are not. 15-year-old Togrul says people in Baku throw rubbish onto the streets, a view shared by Huseyn. Moreover, Dilare believes that environmental concerns also extend to traffic.

I'm concerned about cleaning of my city and traffic jams on the roads. I believe that we need to educate citizens of my community that they keep our city clean, protect nature and be careful on the roads when they drive and follow traffic rules. They should beleive that it is important for their health and welfare. […]

Transport in Armenia is also a concern for 14-year-old Armen.

One of the greatest problems of my home community is the problem of Transportation. Most of the transports including the buses, mini-buses and metros are not working with a timetable and there are not enough places for all of the people to sit.

But while the teenagers in both countries share the same concerns and interests, politics and war still divides them. With the conflict between the two countries over the disputed territory of Nagorno Karabakh now older than she is, 14-year-old Lilit thinks about peace.

Armenia is a country which nowadays has many problems which are unsolved. There are minor problems as dirty streets, unpleasant underground shops and so on. But there are also some problems which I am really concerned about in my country such as unsolved relations with neighbor countries. Since my childhood I have been wondering why isn’t it possible to go to Azerbaijan, to make friends there and invite them to our country. That is really a huge problem right now and I truly hope that all these minor and huge issues which my country is facing now will be solved in nearest future.

On the other side of the closed border, Nara, a 15-year-old resident of Baku, also considers the war.

Nowadays the main problem for Azerbaijan is Karabakh’s war problem. We have a lot of refugees from there. I do like them to be able to return home in the nearest future.

Back in Yerevan, 14-year-old Nikolay expresses his hope for the future as well as the project.

I think that very important part of DOTCOM program will be collective work. Today the biggest attainment for world is peace. We must do everything for peace between two countries, two nations.

DOTCOM's main website is at http://dotcom.ph-int.org and there is a Facebook Group here. A blog set up to present different modules to participants can also be found here while many of their blogs are listed on the profile pages of the Armenian and Azerbaijani program managers.

This post is part of our special coverage Caucasus Conflict Voices.

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