Many of Almáchar's sparkling white walls ended up a muddy brown colour. / E. Cabezas

Whitewashed Axarquia town provides 12,500 kilos of paint to residents so that it can sparkle again after the calima

The council in Almáchar applied to the provincial, regional and national governments for financial assistance but received no response, so despite "limited economic resources" it has stumped up the cash itself

Eugenio Cabezas

The successive episodes of calima - airborne dust from the Sahara desert - in March changed the appearance of nearly every town and village in Malaga province, turning their sparkling white walls into a muddy brown colour. Now, different councils are looking at ways to help people get things looking normal again.

Frigiliana council decided last month to give a 40% discount on water bills, to compensate for the extra water needed to remove the calima from outside walls, and Almáchar says it is going to provide its nearly 1,900 residents with the white paint they need to cover up the damage. The local authority has ordered 12,500 kilos of paint and every household will be entitled to a 20-kilo pot.

The mayor, Antonio Yuste, says the council applied to the Diputación de Malaga, the Junta de Andalucía and the national government for financial assistance to clean up after the calima, but has yet to receive a response. So, despite “our limited economic resources”, he says, they are going ahead with the plan and he hopes that all householders will cooperate and use the paint to make their properties look better.

The paint, which will be available for as long as supplies last, can be collected from Mondays to Fridays between 1pm and 2pm at the municipal storage facilities in the Paseo de la Axarquía. The council has decided to give out 20 pots of paint a day to avoid people having to queue up and wait.

Council officials will go round the village in August and check that the works have been carried out. “We hope everyone in the village will cooperate in returning Almáchar to its normal beautiful appearance, and we thank them in advance for getting involved,” says Antonio Yuste.