|Women of Kruscica that are guarding a bridge 24 hours a day in peaceful protest to keep trucks from arriving to being work on the river again. Some of these women told me that they would die to protect this river. They have already faced off and suffered violence at the hands of Bosnian special police.|
I floated rivers in kayaks and rafts and cut brush to help fish habitats - I met with NGOs and river activists and explored 6 countries in this region that is little-known to much of Europe and the West. I crossed country borders 17 times and without fail was met with incredible hospitality from the locals.
Currently governments and developers are pushing to realize 3,000 new hydropower projects that will or are already drastically challenging sustainable livelihoods as the rivers are dammed, re-channeled and drying up. The diverting or damming of rivers destroys wildlife habitat, alters life-ways people have had for centuries, compromises drinking water and tourism opportunities.
One positive outcome this struggle is realizing is a sense of community - bringing together diverse individuals in defense of rivers and promoting natural resource awareness and goals for long-term sustainability. Rivers express little regard for borders, nationalism, political corruption, corporate greed or religions affiliation. It seems that when individuals begin actively promoting the health of a river that they will engage this reality as well.
With this groundswell of local activism in the Balkans the rest of the world might begin taking notice to what is happening and what is clearly misnamed as "Green Energy." Perhaps pressure will be put on politicians and governments from not only the inside but from the outside as well to stop these hydro projects and to more fully embrace other energy alternatives like wind and solar and let the rivers run free...