The depopulation of rural areas is a problem that has been getting worse in recent years and is not showing signs of reversal, despite the pandemic. More and more small towns and villages are trying to implement new initiatives to attract residents who choose to live and work there, or tourists who visit.
Salares, the second smallest village in Malaga province, with just 173 registered residents, is doing just that. The council is planning to set up a space in the old town hall building at the beginning of 2022 to promote teleworking.
Mayor Pablo Crespillo explained that the village is expecting a grant of 17,000 euros to equip the old building, which has been unused for five years, with half a dozen computers and furniture so that it can be used as an office for teleworking. "In a village like Salares where it is so quiet, this opens up an opportunity to fight against depopulation and to ensure that people who come to the village have all the resources they need".
"With the pandemic we are seeing more and more visitors, so we have identified a need," Crespillo said. He added that he was confident the space would be available by early 2022. "We already have fibre optics at maximum speed, with up to one giga, so the worker can do the same here as in a big city, only here with the peace of mind of only hearing the birds," he added.
The mayor went on to say that the village hopes to increase the number of registered residents by six. "We already have a dozen houses registered as tourist homes and we are seeing a lot of movement of visitors at weekends. We hope that this trend is maintained and continues to rise.”
"Salares is one of the least populated municipalities in the province of Malaga, so helping its residents to have better infrastructure and connections helps to combat depopulation, a problem that occupies and concerns the Andalusian government," said the provincial delegate for regeneration, Mónica Alejo, in a recent visit to Salares.
The delegate also highlighted the fact that the Junta has provided financial help to small towns and villages to help during the pandemic, with a special fund to help them cover additional costs they have faced. Salares has received 7,631 euros in COVID-19 aid, which allowed the council to purchase masks and clean the public roads.
Between 2019 and 2020, the Junta de Andalucía contributed almost 40,000 euros to improvement works in Salares, including telecommunications and infrastructure, and this year it will also pay for the materials for the village school.