New water supply systems help quench Tusheti thirst

Eight villages in the Tusheti Protected Area in Georgia have been selected as recipients of a new internal water supply system, to be fully installed and functional by the end of September 2011.

The villages, Vestomta, Chesho, Parsma, Chala, Dartlo, Dano, Beghela and Baso were selected by local community members at a Community Mobilisation Workshop, held recently in Kvemo Alvani. The goal of the workshops, organised by the Georgian Carnivore Conservation Project, was to identify the needs of communities in Tush villages. The majority of participants named water supply system rehabilitation as a top priority.

Gareth Goldthorpe, Fauna & Flora International’s Project Field Coordinator in Georgia, commented on the importance of the availability of fresh drinking water, “When we have local communities living within protected areas there is always a delicate balancing act between nature protection and community welfare to consider. The Tusheti people are an integral part of this landscape and by helping them reap direct benefit from being associated with the protected area we are reinforcing in them a cultural understanding that they need to be a part of the protection efforts.”

Connected water pipeline in Chesho photo credit: Nacres

In Chesho the water catchment zone has been completed and the pipeline has been connected and laid above ground. Water flow has been tested and reaches the village with good pressure. A public water point has still to be built. There are also five points where the pipeline splits to other parts of the village.

The Georgian Carnivore Conservation Project, an FFI and NACRES collaboration, focuses on the conservation of the unique and globally important biodiversity of the semi-arid landscape in the south-east of the country. The Tush community has a unique culture with prevailing traditional attitudes and customs closely linked to sheep farming. Tusheti is the mountain home of many livestock owners and shepherds, with the majority of the sub-alpine and alpine meadows of the Tusheti Nature Reserve and National Park used for grazing during the summer months.

Village Dano Photo credit: Nacres

In Dano the catchment zone is also complete and the water pipeline connected. Approximately two-thirds of the pipeline has already been laid in the ground and covered with earth. One public water point needs to be renovated and there are four points at which the pipe splits to supply other parts of the village.

The initiative has actively sought to source local skills and resources in the construction of the systems with the local community directly involved in field works.

It is hoped the new drinking water supply systems will encourage sustainable development and environmental benefits in Tusheti Protected Areas.The initiative is being funded by the European Union, through the Georgian Carnivore Conservation Project, and is being implemented by Acción Contra el Hambre.

This project is already proving so successful, another NGO working in Georgia, Transboundary Joint Secretariat, are using it to demonstrate to villagers/stakeholders in Kazbegi, another mountain village area, that living within a protected area can be beneficial.