Renovation of the landslide in Pirok – no need for „house on wheels“

June 21, 2023


Twice in his life, Nagip Fetahu, retired teacher from Pirok, and his family, have experienced the fear and trepidation caused by dangerous landslides.

He vividly recalls the first time, in 1985 when they lived in constant fear that their house, which was significantly damaged by a landslide, will collapse.

„When we woke up early in the morning, we went behind the house, so we saw that the ground had cracked and there was a gap of at least 15-20 cm. We entered the house and saw that the walls of the house had also cracked. There were 2-3 cm cracks. All the walls were cracked. We immediately noticed that the door and window locks had moved, one part had gone down, while the other up. This shows that there was an extremely large and deep shake. “ – explains Fetahu.

They had to sleep in shifts and one of them was always awake, afraid that their home would succumb to the pressure. 


The house cracked, but not the memories. 

Thanks to the kindness of one of his neighbors, Fetahu’s family was not left without a roof over their heads. He gave them his house to use, while taking his own family to Osijek, in Croatia, where he worked. 

Even though they lost their house, they didn’t lose all hope. 

They love living in their village and in the years ahead, together they built two houses.

Aware what the threat of torrential floods and landslides mean for Pirok, Fetahu says that if anything were to happen to their new homes, they would plan for a different solution next time – unorthodox one and even harder to implement.

„If it happens again, if these two houses collapse, then we thought of building a house on wheels, to be able to move it, because we have enough space“ – says Fetahu half-jokingly. 


More then 33 year later, the teacher’s house was once again threatened by a landslide.

„When it happened for the second time, we were in shock, because we still remembered the first time and we would not want it to happen again“ – he added.

But things are changing for the better. 

The retired teacher of over 10 generations of students from the elementary school „Sami Frasheri“ in Pirok, in the  interventions that were done as a part of the Swiss project „ Improving resilience to floods in the Polog region“, implemented by the UNDP, sees a hope for a safer and secure life for himself, his neighbors and most importantly, the young children who attend the classes in the school where he left his mark as one of the most beloved educators.


He still lives in a house situated above the school itself, on a slope of a hill, which has often been under threat of land erosion, landslides and torrential floods. 

He hopes that the work which was done, will bring about a future in which the people will develop ambitious plans for building additional infrastructure in the village, like a high school or sports hall, without fear that something will happen to them in case of another torrential floods in Polog.

„Investments should be made here, people should be employed here, so that children will remain here. This investment is for us all, for me as a person, but also for others, for the entire region. “ – concludes Nagip Fetahu. 


The stabilization of landslides is just one aspect of the Swiss 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 Spatial Planning.

Rehabilitation of riverbeds, cleaning up of wild landfills along river courses, cleaning and maintenance of existing channels for storm drainage, construction of protective dams, afforestation in order to retain flood water, reconstruction of existing ones and installation of new hydrological-meteorological stations are amongst the other important parts of the work being done, which is already improving the lives of the people in the Polog region