Why aren’t you wearing gloves?!” asked a volunteer eagerly as he ran over to us. He must have been around eight or nine and here for the day with his school to clean up a municipal park in Gjakovë/Gjakovica. He is one of many students from thirty-nine schools participating in the cleanup activity as part of the UNDP project “Keep It Tidy” which was led by Let’s Do it Kosova in partnership with the municipality, and several civil society and youth organizations.

In addition to this young boy and his fellow students, directors from various departments of the municipality also participated and helped the students with the clean-up, led by the mayor of Gjakovë/Gjakovica, Mimoza Kusari-Lila.

Every school participates with at least twenty students” says Enviromental Projects Officer from the municipality, Hana Zeka, Prior to joining the campaign, the students were educated on environmental issues such as illegal dumping through in-class learning sessions. “It is important that we involve youth in the process towards a cleaner and more sustainable Kosovo,” continues Zeka. “This is why we have developed an initiative that exposes youth to viable solutions in managing the environment.”

Indeed, citizens’ inputs, especially those from young people, are indispensable for the success of the “Keep It Tidy” project, in line with human-centered design principles. Throughout the project, more than 50 people attended the two stakeholder meetings, identifying the causes of informal dumping and issues of waste management as well as proposing potential solutions. The solution would evidently have to do with infrastructure improvements and awareness raising; however, as a result of the second stakeholder meeting, the project found out that surprisingly (and practically all) people supported higher fines for littering, and the installation of surveillance cameras at key hotspots.

The number of people gathered for the clean-up activity (over 800 people) is another testament that people want a cleaner Gjakovë/Gjakovica. The legacy of the project will be left behind in the form of the Lokalizo application (available in both Android and iOS as well as on website) which gives citizens power to report urban and environmental issues directly to the municipality from their smartphones, thereby giving the citizens of Gjakovë/Gjakovica more power in their efforts to keep their municipality clean.