Habitants against hydro-powers construction in Bënçë

20-05-2017, Bënçë, Tepelena. The “Protecting rivers” group conducted a meeting with the Bënçë village inhabitants to discuss the hydro-powers matter that are under construction in this area. Habitant’s concern was evident, as the dam would leave the village with no water. Bënça is a small village which main activities are farming, agriculture and collection of medicinal plants – the only water resource that this village has is the river.


Along the Bënçë’s valley are planned 8 hydro-powers, 2 of which have already started digging, putting at risk monuments of nature under law protection, such as: Nivica’s canyons, Progonati’s waterfall, Bënçë’s Erosive Terraces, the Rim of the Luzat Fir-Tree as well as the integrity of Vjosa’s catchment basin, which is considered to be one of the most unique rivers in the entire continent.

The habitants are absolutely against the construction of these hydro-powers and they have the support of Tepelena’s Municipality major, Mr. Tërmet Peçi which expressed its personal and institutional commitment in following this case together with the residents and organizations to the court if necessary.

Meanwhile the director of the National Agency of Coastline, Mr. Auron Tare, encouraged the local people to protect this natural heritage and said that the institution he represents has undertaken steps toward the development of non-massive tourism in the area. This year the International Biodiversity Day coincides with the sustainable development through tourism, one more reason to become aware on this matter.

This activity was organized in the frame of  the project HELP-CSO, which is implemented by LexFerenda, EcoAlbania and Milieukontakt Albania and is financed from REC Albania under the ACHIEVE program which is funded by the European Delegation in Albania.

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Study: Identification of water related conflicts linked to hydro power projects in Albania

study-help-csoThis assessment has been prepared under the EU funded project “Horizontal Enforcement Legislation Promotion of Civil Society Organizations (HELP-CSO), through ACHIEVE Programme, managed by Regional Environmental Centre and implemented by Milieukontakt Albania, Eco Albania and LexFerenda.

The overall objective of the Project is to help environmental civil society organizations for a better implementation and monitoring of horizontal legislation in the country. The main objective of this report is to assess the water-related conflict cases linked with hydropower development in the country. The assessment is based on data gathered using the Environmental Justice Organization, Liabilities and Trade (EJOLT) framework assessment model.

The findings presented here are intended to provide supporting information for the detailed planning of the HELP-CSO project activities such as the interactive conflict map as well as to support the local environmental organizations, local communities, engaged citizens, scientists, farmers and energy companies to improve the management of conflict cases regarding hydro-power projects in the country.
The assessment study mapped 18 certain cases of hydro-power conflicts repor ted in Albania during the period 2012-2016.

Find the study here

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Training on the right of access to justice

On 5th October 2016 in Përmet was held the training “The right to access to justice in environmental issues”, part of a series of training developed in the frame of the project HELP-CSO – Horizontal Enforcement Legislation Promotion- CSO.

Training topic was related to building skills of local organizations in the right to access to justice and the right to access on litigation of environmental cases. The training was designed based on an analysis made about the lack of knowledge that CSOs have on horizontal legislation, report of which will be published at the end of the project.

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Foto: Lex Ferenda

Participants in training, mainly from civil society, business and Përmet Municipality representatives expressed interest in advanced knowledge on the right to access to justice as well as practiced in group fulfillment of a Request form for information and Complaint Form by selecting a certain issue.

During October, 2016 will be tested the knowledge gain by the participants through a questionnaire in order to identify the level of skills of the trainees.

Organizations asked more cooperation with the project that has as a priority providing free legal assistance on environmental issues that will be highlighted during 1 year project period. Part of the training was a field visit, near HPP Lanagarica where practical methods of measuring the parameters of the water were demonstrated, helping CSOs to facilitate their monitoring processes.

This training was organized by Lex ferenda, Milieukontakt Albania and EcoAlbania and it is financially supported by the European Delegation Union in Albania through the ACHIEVE project, implemented by REC Albania.

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The group “Protecting Rivers” is formalized

The “Protecting Rivers” group started to operate non formally as such in 2015 by coordinating joint actions, lobbying, advocating, civic reaction, etc., against the big boom of Hydro Power Plants construction. In the last decade mostly by political directives rather than by scientific studies, planning of more than 500 hydro-power plants are spread across the territory of Albania turning out into an extraordinary pressure on our rivers.


© Arion Sauku / Milieukontakt Albania

The organizations with the support of international organizations have reacted in regard to the situation by taking action, campaign and joint projects which consist on the request for the accountability of the decision makers and increase of pressure to reconsider plans to build hydro-power plants.

The Environmental organizations, part of the group were gathered on 9th September, 2016 to formalize it and discuss about the next steps and joint initiatives. The meeting aimed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the initiating organizations of the group and new organizations that have expressed willingness to join the group.

The memorandum aims to establish a framework for cooperation between member organizations and facilitate their interactions, on a non-exclusive basis, in areas of common interest, especially in monitoring and enhancing the implementation of environmental horizontal legislation in order to secure and conserve water resources. NGOs, through this document, agree to combine human, financial and logistic resources, as well as their efforts to maximize the achievement of common objectives.

The meeting was held in the frame of the project  Horizontal Enforcement Legislation Promotion- CSO implemented by Milieukontakt Albania, EcoAlbania and LexFerenda and financially supported by the European Union through ACHIEVE program implemented by the Regional Environmental Center – REC Albania.

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