Difficult tasks yield great results - protective net was placed over the rock which towers over Staro Selo threatening its 200 inhabitants
February 7, 2024
The massive rock looming over Staro Selo, nestled at the base of the Shar Mountain, has threatened the approximately 200 residents of this village in the municipality of Jegunovce in the northwest region of North Macedonia.
Perched at a height of 1,200 meters above sea level, the rock is situated in an area susceptible to adverse weather conditions, including torrential rains, hailstorms, and strong winds.
These conditions in the past have caused serious problems for the wider Polog region and its citizens, such as the flash floods and landslides in 2015, which caused tragic loss of lives and great material damage.
„In the past, for a long time, we were anxious and worried of what might happen. We know what storms and flash floods have caused in our region. We already had an incident when the house of one of our neighbors was damaged by a rockfall. “– says Ilija Janchevski, resident of the village.
Through the Swiss-funded project "Improving Resilience to Floods in the Polog Region," UNDP has carried out the difficult task of safeguarding the prominent rock by installing a protective net over it.
This intervention is of great importance for the safety and wellbeing of the villagers as well as for the protection of their homes and property.
„We are now aware that the threat of rockfall over our homes has been eliminated. We can be calmer and sleep peacefully, safe in the knowledge that there is a net which protects and shields us from the risks and threats caused by the harsh weather conditions, the torrential rains, and storms. “– adds Janchevski.
The potential rockfall was also a serious threat for their water supply.
Under the rock there is a source of water, which is very valuable for the people in the area, since they use it as drinking water.
„We are dependent from the water which springs out from under the rock and any potential rockfall would have caused huge danger and threat for our water supply. If just a small rockfall happened, we could have lost our water supply. This is why, once we were informed about it, we fully supported the Swiss and UNDP intervention, as critically important for our wellbeing“ -says Janchevski.
It was a difficult task, which required extraordinary effort and focus by the team that carried it out. Due to its location in a remote and almost inaccessible place, the workers were faced with a task which required a herculean effort.
There is no paved road leading to the rock, so the teams had to push through and find a way ahead in a rugged and difficult terrain.
After the way to the rock was cleared by the teams and experts, the intervention for the securing of the rock was faced with another challenge – how to bring the heavy nets to the rock itself and how to cover it successfully.
Pero Cvetkovski, the manager of the project for securing of the rock explains that the team had to get creative and seek help from proffesionally certified climbers and alpinists.
„Due to difficult and almost impossible access to the area itself, the installation of the galvanized nets was done with the help of climbers, who had to carry the heavy net by hand.“– explains Cvetkovski.
He adds that after the nets were positioned, the next step was to implement measures which would prevent large stone blocks from falling or from collapsing down on the water catchments located beneath the rock.
„With this operation, we prevent rocks from falling off on the catchments, which would have disturbed the functionality and water supply of Staro Selo and the other villages nearby“ – concludes Cvetkovski.
The stabilization of landslides and rockslides is just one aspect of the Swiss funded project "Improving resilience to floods in the Polog region“ worth 12 million Swiss francs and implemented by the United Nations Development Program in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning.
Rehabilitation and cleaning up of riverbeds, cleaning and maintenance of existing channels for storm drainage, afforestation activities in order to retain flood water, establishing the network for safe and resilient Polog with representatives from all 9 municipalities, reconstruction of existing ones and installation of new hydrological-meteorological stations are amongst the other important parts of the work being done, which is increasing the resilience and improving the lives of the people in the Polog region.