Civic monitoring report

Sent on 9/03/2023 | By UBUNTU | @UBUNTU_team_

What we found out

Project objectives

The project, whose thematic objective is to promote adaptation to climate change, prevention, and risk management, aims, in particular, to reduce hydrogeological risk and coastal erosion and mitigate the hardship caused by the possibility of serious flooding in the south-eastern part of the municipal territory of Palermo, in correspondence with the territory named Ciaculli, placed near the municipality of Belmonte Mezzagno a little village well known in Sicily because a landslide has isolated it from the bordering Ciaculli area since 2021.
The intervention has as its objective the reduction of flooding in the hamlets of Ciaculli, Croce Verde Giardini through:
1. the regulation of three torrential streams (with naturalistic engineering operations),
2. the reshaping and rationalization of the Canale Favara route (from the source to the mouth)
The project is important because the area is characterized by a high vulnerability to hydrogeological risk reflected in the damage that results from weather events. The causes of this vulnerability have mainly natural origin: much of this territory of mountain orography is particularly exposed to the erosive dynamics linked to the terrestrial water cycle and to atmospheric agents in general. This results in a widespread state of instability of the slopes that determines an evolution of morphologies that involves, even ruinously, everything around. The project contributes to increasing the well-being and quality of life of the population, relaunching the economic and social growth of the territory, secure and increasing the resilience of the territory.

Foreseen activities

The project includes, in detail, the following work activities:
- regimentation and channelling of the streams of Vallone 1, Vallone del Porco and Burrone and Discesa dei Mille downstream;
- construction of a section of pipeline in c.s.a, along the route of the disused canal of the former aqueduct of Scillato, connecting the Valloni 1 and the Porco;
- construction along the watershed/road of a section of canal in c.s.a. connecting the Porco valley with the canal along the Via Ciaculli;
- rehabilitation of the Channel from Discesa dei Mille to the Favara Spring;
- the hygienic, environmental and architectural upgrading of the Favara spring area;
- rationalization and functional improvement of the natural and artificial channels Favara, from the source to Via Li Gotti, and Vetrano, from Via Li Gotti to Via Laudicina;
- construction of the section of the Favara canal from Via Li Gotti to the sea.

Project origin

The procedure that gave rise to this project is Action 5.1.1. A of Axis 5 of the POR FESR Sicilia 2014/2020 Actions to secure and increase the resilience of the territories most exposed to hydrogeological risk and coastal erosion with public notice.
The Programme was built on the basis of an analysis of the relevant needs, problems and opportunities that characterize the region.
The seriousness of the current crisis and the need to ensure effectiveness and integration in the use of resources for development (community, national and regional) in the period 2014-2020, led the Region of Sicily to define a unified and integrated regional strategy to increase the well-being and quality of life of the population, as well as to relaunch economic and social growth. This strategy is based on five challenges including environmental sustainability and the quality of environmental services.
The risks associated with hydrogeological instability and the need for prevention also require the adoption of more advanced tools for analysis, intervention and land management.
In this regard, Thematic Objective 5 provides for the possibility of implementing interventions aimed at reducing hydrogeological risk and coastal erosion as well as reducing the risk of fire and seismic risk.
The Regional Department of the Environment ( Planning Body):
- with the DDG 560 dated 03/07/2017 approves the public notice for the selection of beneficiaries and operations with the evaluation procedure of the ranking applications (see attachments).

- with the DDG n. 869 On 29/10/2019 (see attachments) it approves the definitive ranking of operations admitted and the definitive list of operations not admitted.

- with the DDG n. 693 of 23/07 /2020, after one year of constant reminders to the beneficiary, approves the Convention between the Sicily Region-Regional Department of the Environment and the Municipality of Palermo (see attachments);

- with the D.R.S. n.1052 of 05/11/2020 disburses the advance of 177,266.47 euros to the Municipal Administration to start the first stage of the chronogram concerning the engineering services contract.

With Resolution no. 72 of 23/03 /2021 the Municipality updates the two-year program for the purchase of goods and services 2021/2022, inserts an estimate of the total purchase costs of 720,264.41 euros for the definitive and executive design service and for the control services , with a contract duration of 14 months and 10 months respectively; appoints engineer Dino as the RUP (Procedure Manager).


The portal of Open Cohesion providesthe number of 3,431 persons benefiting from protection measures against hydrogeological risk. The beneficiary population is 4,687 according Annex to the Convention.
Actually , the interventions of this project are in favor of the entire population of the district of Ciaculli, which today is equal to 6,274 people, whose average age is 48 years. Of these, 3060 are men and 3,213 women. Children under 4 years of age are 229, from 5 to 9 years are 257, from 10 to 14 years 287 and adolescents 301.


The territory is dominated by the floodplains of Mount Grifone.
It is not a novelty that the territory in which the project operates becomes a real improvised pool during the heavy rains, with a landslide risk on Ciaculli and Croceverde for the amount of debris from Mount Grifone that fall on houses, roads and citrus groves, with flooding throughout the area up to via Messina Marine. The old systems of water collection and transport to the sea are in fact obsolete and the soil, because of the excessive cementification, cannot absorb all the water that then pours into the streets and often invades houses and shops.
For years the inhabitants have been asking for the necessary works to collect water from the valleys of Mount Grifone and that in recent years have caused many problems to the homes and to the population; since November 2021 the provincial road 37 which connects Palermo to Belmonte Mezzagno has been closed due to a landslide in the section of the rockfall tunnel.
But not only that, the hydrogeological instability also causes considerable damage to the agricultural area, which is a fundamental economic resource for Ciaculli. Ciaculli in fact represents, for the level of intensification and homogeneity of cultivation, the largest agricultural and mandarine district of the Conca D'oro. The economy of the village, in fact, has always been agricultural and characterized by the presence of the famous beams, as also told us by Mr Tusa the Councillor of the II district, during his interview.
Ciaculli has also been subject to other projects in the past, such as the creation of an agricultural park and recreational areas.
This place is looking for redemption from a mafia-style fame that has always accompanied it, because it is linked to the Greco family, one of the most criminal gangs that the sad Sicilian history can remember.
Burnishing, improving and making places more accessible should be an important task for our administration. Removing such funding aggravates the sense of desolation and abandonment that is recorded in the territory, especially when there are particular weather conditions.


According to the Beneficiary Subject (Municipality of Palermo), interviewed by us on 13/03/2023, the project has never started as it has not been possible to begin the procedures for the procurement of the definitive design service and execution of the intervention.


The project actually did not achieve any results because it never started. According to the chronogram present in the agreement, the assignment phase of the final and executive design would have already been completed, including the other services and supplies indicated and we should find ourselves in the execution phase of the works and close to the end scheduled for December 2023. There is just no evidence that the design process has begun. We asked engineer Asaro of the Territorial Management Area - Public Works Sector - Networks and Infrastructures Office of the municipality of Palermo for the reason for the accumulated delay. In fact he is not directly involved in the project but he is the person identified by Councilor S. Orlando who we contacted directly. According to Eng. Asaro the delay depends on the lack of personnel. In fact, the RUP (Italian acronym to indicate the sole responsible for the procedure) Dott. Dino retired and they couldn't replace him. In this office, the interviewees (next to the engineer Asaro there is a silent architect Vizzini) complain of the conditions of shortage not only for the personnel but for the service cars to reach the construction sites and even for the lack of a photocopier. Unskilled personnel and lack of resources with respect to the responsibilities to be assumed. How far are these speeches from the concepts of smart city, sustainability, and efficiency that we hear so much flaunted in political campaigns? How sad to learn that the problem is related to administrations that do not take into account the replacement and new recruitment necessary. There's money in the drawer and we can't spend it. Everything flows as usual in the slowness and resignation of the municipality of Palermo. Nothing has moved and nothing will move. The documents and the interviewees are clear: the project has not produced any results because it has never started.


Lack of use of goods and services by the local authority to which the investment was intended.
The inefficiency of the administrative system is the most distressing aspect. A slow and obsolete machine, unable to trigger the speeding process necessary to get money out of the drawer.
Long bureaucratic procedures in the allocation of the contracts.
The delay in the procedure that does not align temporally the objective of the plan with the territorial requirement.
The implementation of the project would have meant limiting the damage caused by flooding that, when affecting the countryside of the territory, produce economic damage to the producers of late Mandarin.


Of course it is difficult to find strengths in a project never started but this does not prevent us from saying what strengths the project expresses.
The strong point is to understand that the problem of hydrogeological instability is perceived as a priority by the Sicilian region to the point of devoting 155 million euros to containing the problem.
The project would put in place a work of direct prevention on the territory for the fight against the hydrogeological instability of the south-eastern area of Palermo.
From the point of view of civic commitment the strength we saw in the figure of a passionate district councillor who is indignant and who decides not to give up, who tells with love and dedication the redevelopment work carried out.
The strong point would be the rebirth of a difficult territory, like that of Ciaculli, whose natural landscape beauty imposes itself as to ask to be cared for and protected. The territory asks not to be abandoned, re-evaluated for its peculiarities in the agricultural sector that make it unique and valuable as the late Mandarin.
The strong point is to understand which side you want to be on as a citizen, realize what you do not like and what you would like to change in your city.


In the case of this project, the main risk for the future is that tragic events may occur that bring with them the death of individuals, permanent damage to structures and the environment, unbearable inconvenience for citizens. The discomfort that such an event can cause is contained in the story of the student Joseph Parlapiano who is forced, after the landslide in Belmonte Mezzagno, an area above and bordering the Ciaculli area, to wake up at 5 to reach our school. The new stressing route lengthens his journey by an hour. How many stories like Joseph's might be told if the intervention to mitigate the expected hydrogeological risk is not implemented in the Ciaculli district.
Another risk is the subtraction of funds from those territories (in the South) where they would have been most needed. We know that very often the funds lost are directed towards regions that are more responsible and capable of making European funding fruitful.
If the fund was designed to be used for the Ciaculli area, it seems to us right that it should be reprogrammed in favour of that area, for the benefit of both citizens and the territory itself.

Ideas and solutions

1.Major civic involvement: The main idea is the one to stay alongside the constituency, to experience a model of active civic assembly, completely peaceful, that starting from us can directly involve the population of the territory.
The President and the entire council are available for discussion and any action to be taken in the hope that the funding will not be lost.
2. A planned and programmed strategy: We are convinced that a project like the one we monitor should be part of a planned and programmed strategy at a territorial level that takes into account a chain that includes: Planning - Forecasting - Prevention - Active Struggle.
3. Careful municipal planning, understood as a study and planning document, which is considered ordinary activity to take into account the dynamic evolution of hydrogeological risk, is necessary to achieve better results.
4. Smart Specialisation Strategy - S3 The adoption of a strategy consistent with the principle of intelligent specialization (Smart Specialisation Strategy - S3) able to exploit the potential of our territory and support growth paths as in the case of late Mandarin product.
5.The adoption of models of integrated governance of services involving public and private actors in the territory, avoiding overlap, through specific agreements in the implementation phase that make use of the synergies of the different actors in order to avoid bureaucratic delays.
6.A new approach to cultural and tourist policies that identifies in the environmental heritage a driver of development for the Sicilian territory, thanks to the promotion, in the areas of attraction, of networks of companies operating in the cultural, creative and entertainment chains, with companies operating in traditional production sectors. Let us think about the revaluation of the Ciaculli district.
7.A hiring plan to reinforce the technical staff with new young and prepared professionals.

Results and Impact of the monitoring

Dissemination of results

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Territorial events organised by the teams


Contacts with media outlets

  • Other

Contatti con le Pubbliche Amministrazioni per discutere i risultati del Monitoraggio

  • Partial answer

Description of the case

The case we have dealt with can be summed up in the sentence "The sad story of a project that was never born". We know that there are no more or less important projects. But there are certainly more or less urgent projects. Ours, which deals with securing the Ciaculli area, an area that presents a high risk of hydrogeological instability, seems to us to be extremely important. Above all, we understood how it is possible that despite the misfortunes that have occurred in territories at risk of hydrogeological instability and despite the fact that there is much talk of prevention given the flood effects caused by climate change, €11,817,765.63 can be left in the drawer and will return to Brussels because it was never spent.
We wanted to meet the faces of the people involved in various ways to understand how such a delay can accumulate. We contacted them, some received us and replied with a pathetic resignation that left us dumbfounded, others warned us about the inefficiencies that are not their responsibility, others and we want to tell you about these got going and decided to stay by our side. The district of Ciaculli with one of its councilors has decided to support an information campaign that will start from the meeting that we will organize within the Istituto Comprensivo Padre Puglisi. Community service students will talk about the monitoring research carried out so that in addition to the evacuation plan sent to them by the Mayor on how to stay safe during floods, they know that the fund intended for their safety has remained closed in a drawer and will no longer be used. Our research wants to highlight the collective responsibility we ALL have in front of the hydrogeological instability in our region.
Landslides, floods, coastal erosions, subsidences and avalanches are due to climate change… but not only. Their effects could be reduced, indeed, with a better administration of the territory and a reduction of cementification often permitted by special amnesties authorized for political interests. The security of that territory is a social responsibility. We don't want to witness another Ischia part 3.

Investigation method

How was the information collected?

  • Web research
  • Visit to the project's location, documented by pictures or videos
  • Interview with people responsible for the project's planning
  • Interview with the users and/or final beneficiaries of the intervention
  • Interview with other types of people
  • Interview with political leaders

- Engineer Asaro and Architect Vizzini - Municipality of Palermo
- Dr. Tusa - Councillor of the 2nd District of Palermo
- Dr. Puleo - official of the Department of Territory and Environment of the Sicily Region
- Parlapiano Joseph Pio , citizen

Main questions

1) What were the shortcomings and problems of an administrative nature for which the project was not carried out? (Dr. Puleo Department of Territory and Environment Region of Sicily)
2) What policy improvements would have been useful for the project to be implemented? (Dr. Tusa - Councillor II District of Palermo)

Main answers

1.The main problems stem from the considerable delays caused by the Municipality. As many as 5 were the reminders for the signing of the convention. The delay in the realization of the phase relative to the entrustment of the services for the definitive and executive planning despite the extension of a year was granted, the Municipality did not accept the proposal thus revealing the unwillingness to carry out the work. He agrees with the fact that the situation of public bodies, in particular the Municipality of Palermo, is disastrous and the lack of staff lengthens the working time and does not allow all projects to be implemented. He therefore points out that the project in question has left the rooms of the department and is now among the files in the hands of the Commissioner.

2. Surely the main intervention that I would implement to improve the administrative effectiveness of our city, would be to implement administrative decentralization, thus giving more power to the Districts, who are closer to the citizens who know their needs better. Only in this way we can ensure that projects of this importance, such as those you are monitoring, are carried out, to bring benefits to communities and territories.