Albania: uprising against a project to divert water from a river

It was a first in Europe.

In 2023, the Albanian government and sportswear brand Patagonia created a national park in the south of the country around the Vjosa River and its tributaries.

But less than a year after its designation, work is underway to divert the waters of its main tributary, in order to supply the seaside resorts on the coast and support the tourist boom.

Valley residents, worried about their own water resources, are mobilizing.

View of the Vjosa, a river flowing in Albania.

AP - Felipe Dana

By: RFI Follow


Read more

With our correspondent in the Shushica Valley


Louis Seiller

Grouped together on pebble benches and surrounded by a river with crystal clear water, dozens of residents unfurl a banner: “ 

Save our Shushica.

 » Like many in the valley, Syri, 58, is a sheep breeder.


We need this water!”

This water is our life.

To take it away from us is to ruin our future, to take the bread out of our mouths

 ,” he takes offense.

For several months, pipes have been installed to transport water from the Shushica to the other side of the mountain, to the Albanian Riviera, in the midst of a tourist boom, but without water resources.

Also listenAlbania: in Shëngjin, seaside tourism threatened by climate change

Astrit Balilaj is one of the mayors of the 30 municipalities concerned.


Everything is done in a hidden way!

There are no public consultations with the community.

Here, in the valley, there is not a single resident who agrees to divert the water from our river and transport it to the coast

 ,” he explains to us.

In March 2023, the Albanian government celebrated the creation of an unprecedented Wild River National Park, aiming to protect the region's rivers.


In a national park, it is prohibited to divert water from rivers.

This has an impact on the biodiversity and climate of the area, but also on the local economy.

Because here, the lives of the inhabitants depend on the river

 ,” insists Besjana Guri, from the NGO EcoAlbania.

While the Albanian authorities are banking heavily on the development of seaside tourism, residents and environmentalists are demanding an immediate halt to the work and a new environmental impact study.


Receive all the international news directly in your inbox

I subscribe

Follow all the international news by downloading the RFI application

Share :

Continue reading on the same themes:

  • Albania

  • Environment

  • Water