Rethinking is announced
– Panorama Tsigounas –
Tsigounas is a small village on the coast of the Libyan Sea, located directly on the slopes of the vast Asterousia Mountains. A few kilometers away from the touristically well-known Lentas, it leads a rather contemplative existence with its xxx inhabitants. These are mainly active in agriculture.
However, as elsewhere, farming methods have changed significantly over the last three decades, with vast quantities of greenhouses replacing most of the traditional open-land cultivation areas. Increases in production and earlier and more frequent harvest times were one thing and, of course, very much in the interests of the farmers. The flip side of the coin, however, was an incredible amount of plastic waste of unusable material. For Tsigounas, this was already around 18 tonnes in the 2004/2005 season, mainly as a result of greenhouse and plant cover such as endless water pipes.
The fatal thing about it: Almost 30 percent of them were simply left in the countryside, burned more than 30 percent, a considerable amount landed on free dumps and only 17 percent were recycled. In sum, an ecological disaster, many dozens of localities in the region are quite similar.
The flip side of the coin forces us to rethink …
However, at the beginning of the new millennium there was also a first rethink in parts of the village population of Tsigounas. A non-profit village association was created (Association for Promotion and Protection of the Village of Tsigounas). At the top of the agenda was a better disposal of the addressed plastic waste. But also alternative ways of cultivation were targeted, revival of traditional skills, the development of the place and its infrastructure, social issues, contact and exchange with people from abroad and more.
All in all, a process of not always simplifying awareness that took its time. The result can be seen without question. For more than a decade, plastic waste has been collected centrally and then picked up by the authorities and recycled, or at least disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner. Even the household waste is recently separated and recycled. In the village and the surrounding area is consistently reforested. The eastern approach to the village was paved, the same is due for the further western route. The communal activities in the village as well as the neighborhood have increased considerably (festivals, exchanges and more). The village and the Tsigounas Association have become something of a pilot project for the region.
Difficulties with the authorities, too …
Not only the common opinion was temporarily a bit difficult. Some had to be persistently and vigorously struggled against politics and authorities. So even after a fire in the area in 2014, which destroyed the supply of municipal water. To this day, the households in the village have to take care of the agricultural lines. However, constant pressure from the community and the association has ultimately ensured that now (as of 2018) the work for a new and now also underground supply line has been tendered.
However, despite all the successes, there is still a problem in space that is downright existential for the future, not just for the village, but also for the entire region as far as the Messara level. The groundwater level in the Asterousia mountains between the coast and the interior of the country has been falling alarmingly fast for years. If the level falls below a certain level, there will be no back pressure in the subterranean cavities, and seawater will inevitably penetrate from the coast. The catastrophic consequence then: The entire region will “desertify”, so become a desert.
The special water problem …
It is far from the case that village club and residents of Tsigounas have disregarded a more sustainable approach to water. Much has been achieved over previous indifference, for example, with regard to porous pipes and leaky joints. Success has also been achieved with regard to greater awareness in the general handling of the essential material. In terms of greenhouse cultivation, there are still serious shortcomings, which are made even more difficult by the fact that every farmer can drill privately for his water needs in the mountains. A collaborative approach is thus not (yet) recognizable.
Of course, this is also a question of raising awareness and dealing with the topic. Which is to be deepened on this website in a separate menu item (“main problem of water”), as it is of course not alone a problem of Tsigounas.
For all functioning self-initiative: Association and village definitely need support, as it is given on a small scale by regular travelers who have joined the association. MAZI wants to be informative and mediating, to stimulate exchange, cooperation and donations.