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A Spanish town has come up with a clever way to fight depopulation

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By Marta Rodriguez Martinez
A Spanish town has come up with a clever way to fight depopulation
Copyright  Credit: Ayuntamiento en Portell de Morella

The mayor of a Spanish village came up with an original solution to stop the town school from shutting down due to a lack of pupils.

His plan was to offer families with children a job and rented accommodation at €50 a month in exchange for moving to Portell — a village in the east of Spain.

“We met with the school board in January, before the second term began and there were seven students in total. Next year there would be only four and they’re two sisters and two brothers so the education would be monotonous, we have to look for diversity,” Mayor Alvaro Ferrer told Euronews.

Ferrer received hundreds of responses to his call for help from all over Spain and even some Latin American countries like Argentina and Colombia. As the town only has seven jobs and three housing accommodations to offer, the mayor asked those interested to send an application for review.

The pre-selected students were interviewed by the school board and city hall last week.

"In order to evaluate, we had to be clear that we could offer them a job within the range of work in the town hall, and that the children were within the educational age," said Ferrer.

On April 4, Portell city council announced ten families would move to the village at the end of the school year. Four new children of will integrate the town’s school next year.

Erica Venturia, who is moving to Portell with her husband and her two daughters, told El Periodico Mediterraneo she found the offer while she was unemployed. She said her family was going through a tough time and is very excited by the opportunity.

Speaking of the chosen families, Ferrer said: “they would provide a solution if they decide to stay in Portell.” However, the mayor has saved the information of other candidates in case it doesn’t work out with the families he’s selected.

The province of Castellon where Portell is located suffers from severe depopulation. According to regional data, 86% of its municipalities have less than 5,000 inhabitants and 19 of these have less than 100 people.