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The European Investment Bank (EIB) is in the early stage of assessing a loan for the 280 megawatt Nenskra hydropower plant, which is to be built by a Korean investor in the northwest of Georgia. The project is located on the Nenskra and Nakra rivers in the Caucasus mountain valleys inhabited by ethnic Svans. Nenskra is one of the 34 hydropower plants slated for development in a region the size of Mallorca. The intense exploitation of water power has happened despite no national energy strategy and with a record of unsatisfactory environmental impact assessments and minimal engagement of the affected population.

The failure to recognize the rights of Svans and identify the impacts on their livehoods has created opposition to a previous Khudoni hydropower project among the downstream communities. The poor quality assessment of the Nenskra project, together with the neglect of the opinion of locals, threatens to aggravate the fading public acceptance of hydropower. With this project, the EIB and other potential international financiers have a chance to insist on changes to the imprudent course hydropower developments have taken in Georgia and to request tighter environmental and social regulations. See more