We Are Svaneti
Svan people and NGOs protecting Upper Svaneti in Georgia from the Nenskra Dam.
The Svans, indigenous people of the Greater Caucasus in Georgia, restored the traditional ruling body “lalkhor” in order to stop the construction of the Nenskra Dam and other unsustainable projects. Highly dependent on their land and traditions, Svans from Chuberi and Nakra communities are trying to attract tourists, travelers and adventure-lovers. The pristine Nenskra River, one of the best for […]
The Svans, indigenous people of the Greater Caucasus in Georgia, restored the traditional ruling body “lalkhor” in order to stop the construction of the Nenskra Dam and other unsustainable projects. Highly dependent on their land and traditions, Svans from Chuberi and Nakra communities are trying to attract tourists, travelers and adventure-lovers. The pristine Nenskra River, one of the best for white-water sports, is under threat.
Georgian and international citizen organizations are supporting local people with biodiversity, geology and tourism studies. Through the “We Are Svaneti” project alternatives for the development of the communities are promoted. The organizations have also launched complaints to the banks and the Bern Convention and are creating a strong awareness in Georgia to protect rivers.
The Nenskra Hydropower Project funded by international banks (EBRD, EIB, ADB) and promoted by K-Water (South Korea) is located in two of the most unspoiled valley of the Greater Caucasus. Mountain peaks, glaciers, virgin beach and coniferous forest are home to the West Caucasian tur (Capra caucasica), bearded vulture (Gypaetus barbatus) and Caucasian grouse (Lyrurus mlokosiewiczi). The indigenous Svan population is very much against the project as it threatens their self-subsistence agriculture and forestry. The project consists of a dam, pressure tunnel, surge tank, penstock, powerhouse, access roads, high voltage transmission lines in the Chuberi community lands. Additionally a transfer tunnel is planned to convey water from Nakra river to the Nenskra dam reservoir.
Given the scale of existing and new hydro developments and supporting infrastructure projects a strategic environmental assessment of the existing and planned hydropower projects in Georgia should be conducted to evaluate the impacts and avoid an excessive burden on river ecosystems.
By 2020 the building of the Nenskra Dam hasn’t started, except for some access roads. The building company Salini Impregilo withdrew from the project after strong opposition from locals, including street matches and protests. K-Water sogned with new sub-contractors in 2020 – Hyundai Engineering & Construction y Limak, Korean and Turkish companies famous for financial and corruption scandals. Meanwhile there is local support for creating a new Svaneti National Park as a long-term solution for protecting nature and indigenous rights.
© Rosa Vroom, www.rosavroom.co 1, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10
© Andrey Ralev, www.perangua.com 2, 3, 4, 5