The Vjosa is Europe’s last undammed, free-flowing river, running untamed for 270km from Greece through southern Albania to the Adriatic Sea. It is a vital source of life for numerous endangered plant and fish species as well as the people who live along its banks. Farming is a mainstay of life and still deeply rooted in the culture along the Vjosa, but ecotourism is growing, bringing new economic opportunities and attracting visitors who want to see this unique environment.
However, today the Vjosa is continuously threatened by hydropower projects, which would permanently alter the flow of the river, harming life within it, flooding villages and displacing people who depend on their land for survival. These projects come as a policy reversal by the government, which had promised to declare the area a protected national park. The courts upheld a lawsuit which blocked construction of one dam, but an appeal has been filed and bids opened on a second potential hydropower project. Communities along the Vjosa have united in challenging the government’s on-going actions, in an effort to save a way of life that has sustained them for generations.
Nick St.Oegger (b. 1988) is a documentary photographer from California, whose work explores people and societies in limbo, dealing with themes of identity, memory and the clash of tradition against modernity. He has spent several years working in the Western Balkans, with a specific focus on Albania. Clients have included: Vice, Huck, Reuters, Le Monde, De Standaard and Kosovo 2.0. Nick holds an MA in Documentary Photography and Photojournalism from the University of Westminster. He is currently based between London and Tirana, Albania.