'Knowing the wounds' of the Drini River

Aarhus Center NGO presents the results of Drini River pollution monitoring

April 29, 2017 | By Eduart Cani

On April 28, 2017, the CRESSIDA project focal point for Shkodra, Aida Shllaku, led a workshop for high-level stakeholders titled "Mapping Pollution Factors along the Drini River in Shkodra. The workshop provided an opportunity to present the results of monitoring the effects of current waste-disposal practices and urban pollution on the Drini River. The component is part of a larger approach community awareness-raising effort being implemented by the Aarhus Center NGO with support from the REC and other donors.

The Aarhus Center, as the project's implementing agency, made use of the "community science" approach to identify pollution sites by mobilising volunteers and local people along with institutions and other actors active in water-related issues. The team made use of existing databases from the local authorities, and followed up with a direct survey to update and expand the database on the sources and status of pollution.

Three maps have been developed to indicate: precise locations of pollution sources; hotspots; and business activity pressures on the river. The sources contain detailed information on the typologies and severity of the pollution.

“The situation is very dramatic due to the lack of infrastructure and law enforcement," said Arjan Laci from the Ashta Hydropower Plant. "We have asked for the support of central and local institutions in making it a high priority to address issues of waste dumping."

“Regarding urban waste, we have great difficulties in cleaning up existing urban waste pollution sites, and there are areas without cleaning services," CRESSIDA Focal Point Aida Shllaku commented. "Therefore, we ask for more community responsibility as we can't handle the situation at institutional level." 

The State Inspectorate for Environment and Forests added: "There are many businesses that have a high pollution capacity, such as dairy and meat processing facilities, that are not in line with legal requirements and cannot be licensed, but they continue to operate illegally. It require broad inter-institutional cooperation to overcome such challenges.”

The event resulted in some conclusions were drawn. Low-level or non-harmonised data from institutions was identified as a key issue pertaining to proper management of the Drini River watershed. Urban waste and wastewater activities were identified as main pollution sources for the area. Community awareness is very low, and is much more evident in areas where poverty is very high, especially in Roma and Egyptian community settlements along the river. Finally, institutions should harmonise their work and increase the chances of better law enforcement.

The event was covered by local media, which showed great interest in the final results of the project.

TAGS: Albania | River protection | Pollution | Monitoring and reporting