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Zdzieszowice, Opole, Poland

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The municipality of Zdzieszowice is situated in the southwestern part of Poland and has almost 16,500 inhabitants. About 10,000 of them live in the small town of Zdzieszowice, the rest in the surrounding localities Januszkowice, Jasiona, Krępna, Oleszka, Rozwadza and Żyrowa.

The charcoal plant built in the 1930s has offered an economic perspective to people in the region, at some stage up to 4,000 jobs at a time. Thanks to the good location near a motorway and the initiative of the municipality, careful structural changes could be implemented during the past ten years: 16 new enterprises could be established, and the number of tradesmen rose considerably. As a result, about 5,500 people worked in the municipality. In addition, new settlements brought a new income to the locality. These beneficial economic conditions helped the inhabitants of Zdzieszowice to reach one of the higher ranks in terms of income compared to the country’s average. Furthermore, the municipality has the chance to constructively plan its future.

However, the strong economic domination also resulted in a high degree of heterogeneity. While the smaller villages in the neighbourhood mostly display a strong community life, the main locality has the character of a small town. Migration from all of Poland and the Ukraine during the past decades also resulted in an inhomogeneous society. Creating a sense of community in view of these conditions is one of the big challenges.

The demographic development shows a decrease of 15% in the group children and young people, mostly due to people moving away and a low birth rate. The municipality maintains decentralized locations for the schools and cleverly looks for a further development of the educational infrastructure. The creation of new construction developments plays an important role to that end.

The municipality of Zdzieszowice knows how to use funds for the development of rural and small town areas well and uses them as impulses. The localities of Źyrowa, Rozwadza and Januskowina especially show a high degree of socio-cultural initiative. Many societies and clubs have developed. Thanks to a high degree of citizen participation, community halls and culture houses are in operation, on one hand meeting people’s demands for leisure activities and on the other hand promoting a joint thinking process regarding the future of the home town. These services have been combined with educational services of the state, making for many laudable and future-orientated initiatives, which are in the process of being implemented. Participation among the female population is high.

In the ecological area, the water power plant, the endeavors for the reduction of emissions from the charcoal plant, the cleaning of waste waters and the separation of household trash deserves mentioning. Forestry and agriculture only play a small part.

Zdzieszowice has experienced a remarkable economic development, whereby the main town also supports the surrounding villages in their development. The tools of rural development could be used successfully during the past years, making Zdzieszowice strong for the future. Zdzieszowice received the European Village Renewal Award for special achievements in a number of areas of village renewal.