By Hans Cole
“Jo diga ne Pocem! Jo diga ne Pocem!”
The rallying cry repeated as anti-dam protestors, activists, kayakers and local people from the Vjosa River valley marched through the Albanian capital of Tirana on Friday, May 20th. Translation: “No dams in Pocem!” This protest, the final event of the 35-day Balkan Rivers Tour, marked the delivery of a “kayak petition” to the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, and demanded an end to new dam development on the pristine Vjosa River, including a major dam project near the village of Pocem.
The Vjosa, which flows 270 kilometers without barriers from the Pindus Mountains to the Adriatic Sea, is just one of many rivers in the Balkans region that is being threatened by a tidal wave of more than 2,700 new hydropower dam projects.
Above: Paddlers from the Balkan Rivers Tour gather on the bank of the Vjosa River. Photo: Andrew Burr