Activists in Macedonia win fight for clean water despite years of dismissal by former government
In a big victory for grassroots activism in Macedonia, a new water supply system was built in the southern municipality of Gevgelija, after years of struggle by local activists who kept warning their drinking water is poisoned with arsenic.
The system will provide drinking water for the 19,500 inhabitants in the surrounding areas, local news site Gevgelijanet.com reported.
This development vindicated “Arsena” — a group of local activists that had been trying to warn the public about the water’s toxicity for several years.
Even though the Institute of Public Health of the Republic of Macedonia determined in 2012 that the water was dangerously toxic, the political authorities refused to admit that there was any problem with the water supply.
Arsena conducted additional analyses of the tap water in several different labs in 2014 and attempted to publish the results.
When the reporters of national media came to the “business” event, the activists presented them with plastic bottles of water from Gevgelija water supply.
Only one national level TV reported about this event, but that was enough for the citizens of Gevgelija to learn about it, and make a rush on the local shops to buy bottled water.
However, the construction site remained empty for the next three years.
The same year, after local elections, the municipal government changed.
Solving the water supply problem was one of the main goals for the new administration, and the facility was finished by November 2018.