Anavra : A Model Sustainable Community

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village_02 The lack of basic supplies in rural areas, such as electricity and water supply system, have caused many problems. A study by the International Energy Agency mentioned that approximately  1.3-1.6 billion people globally, most of whom live in rural communities, have no access to electricity, while 2.7 billion people have no access to clean cooking conditions.

An alternative solution may be the provision of sustainable energy, which would not only solve crucial living issues but may also influence the quality of life, fight poverty, and improve education.

A small village in Greece named Anavra has put this solution into action. Anavra is located in central Greece at an altitude of 1000m. It has about 600 residents, most of whom deal in livestock. This village is considered to be a model for Greece. It has no crime or unemployment, while about 35.7 % of the Greek population lives near the poverty line and face harsh living conditions, according to data collected by the EU.

Its success is based mainly on its methodology and its model of sustainable development. Anavra was named first place in development for 10 consecutive years in Greece and ranked third in the southern countries of Europe, accordingly the mayor of the village, Dimitris Tsoukalas.

 

Building a Healthy Environment

 

village_anThe story began in 1990 when Mr. Tsoukalas, who was born in the village but lived in Athens, decided with his wife, Mahi Karali, to leave their residence in the city and move to Anavra.

At that time the village was in a very bad condition. It was neglected and its residents, about 300 people, had no water supply network nor public spaces. The picture was disappointing; even the animals wondered around the village, practically living with its residents.

“It wasn’t easy at the beginning,” said Mr Tsoukalas. “Apart from the lack of fundamental living conditions, the residents didn’t want to cooperate.”

Mr. Tsoukalas, with his wife and a secretary, Olga Lialiou, worked very hard on reviving the village. He was elected mayor and in 2010 they established the NGO Anavra Zo. They carried out 3 studies on how to rebuild the area based on green development and a healthy cultural environment.

First they had to move the animals outside the village. In a year they succeeded by building 3 livestock parks, based on biological animal farming , all of which applied with the approach of HACCP and were certified by the ISO and EU.

Second, they built a road network connecting the village with neighbouring areas and improved the existing network inside the village. Τhey built 2 schools and in order to facilitate teachers in their work, they offer free accommodation and utilities.

village_schoolThe same thing happened with the doctor of the village, who works and lives in the local medical office free of charge. A modern folklore museum was set up, and 2 football fields as well. Last but not least, a wind energy park has been created, which consists of 20 wind turbines.

“Everything is possible. All you need is love, will, hard work, and vision in order to succeed,” said Mr. Tsoukalas.

This project can be applicable to both developing and developed countries as well, no matter whether they are in the mountains or a sea side area. For more information visit their website.

 

 

 

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Anastasia Georgouli

Anastasia Georgouli

Anastasia is a freelance writer living in Athens, Greece.

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