Ivana Simunovich: We should all treat water with respect

Ivana Simunovich, one of our 2014 Living Danube Tour volunteers in Croatia, shares her experiences and gives her perspective on river issues

What was your experience at the first Living Danube Tour organized last year in Croatia?
I can tell you that I was positively surprised last year when I volunteered for the first time at the Living Danube Tour. I was amazed by the large turnout of people, since it was the first time that “Amazon of Europe Day” was held in Kriznica. I think WWF’s educational truck caught everyone’s attention. People were curious and rushing towards our tent to see what is happening. It was a fun and exciting day. Everybody had a great time. At 3 pm, most of the people present on the banks of the Drava decided to participate in the “big jump” to show their support and emphasize the importance of rivers. All in all, it was a really nice experience and I will definitely volunteer this year as well!
How did the people react to the gadgets, quiz and other interesting activities you prepared?
Judging by their response to the activities we organized, it seemed that we attracted all of their attention. Solving puzzles, coloring and painting, answering the quiz, listening to interesting facts about different animals, made learning fun for children, families and adults. People seemed to enjoy it and everybody wanted to participate (at least once!). 
Do you think sharing information about our rivers, species and their services is important?
Of course, sharing information and making it more available and interactive for the public is the first step to raising awareness, and therefore protection. It is crucial to see what the general opinion about rivers is. Is it only a transportation path and an easy way of waste disposal? Or people see the other side as well – that rivers have an aesthetic value and a recreational purpose and are a life sustaining water source. Educating people about the importance of the rivers and the wildlife that lives in this habitat makes it easier to point out that rivers aren’t only the place where our water comes from, but they support an entire ecosystem. Step by step, especially talking about the possible consequences and what we might lose because of our unawareness and recklessness, we can hope to maintain the balance of this precious ecosystem.
Are people in Croatia conscious about their rivers and protect them? 
Unfortunately, I am not sure if people are aware enough. I think there should be more events like the Living Danube Tour, which would help raise public consciousness. Through this experience, understood, by playing games and taking part in discussions, that they have to show active, daily support in order to maintain the river ecosystem as it is. Especially the local communities, which have more impact, should arrange continuous local activities to keep the rivers clean and monitored. I believe our effort was the first step towards movements like that. Our lives depend on the water and the freshwater ecosystem. This is the reason why we all should treat it with respect and use it responsibly and sustainably. 

No comments added yet