Rivers in Outer Reykjavík Flood Their Banks

The Elliðaár River flooded its banks in several places on Sunday afternoon, RÚV reports. The deluge comes in the wake of significant thawing this weekend, which has increased flow into rivers around the country. Daníel Freyr Jónsson, one of four geologists who manages the Facebook group Eldfjalla- og náttúruvárhópur Suðurlands (‘Volcano and natural hazards group of South Iceland’) documented the flooding.

Daníel Freyr Jónsson, Eldfjalla- og náttúruvárhópur Suðurlands (FB)

The Elliðaár river is fed by Lake Ellíðavatn on the eastern outskirts of Reykjavík. The river forks in the district of Árbær, where it bounds the Elliðaárdalur valley, a popular outdoor recreation area. Lake Ellíðavatn also feeds several other rivers, including the Bugða and Hólmsá rivers. According to the Met Office, flow into both the Bugða and Hólmsá rivers has increased significantly over the weekend; flow into the Hólmsá tripled in just over 24 hours between Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon.

Daníel Freyr Jónsson, Eldfjalla- og náttúruvárhópur Suðurlands (FB)

Sunday’s flooding took place in the Víðidalur valley, not far from where Breiðhóltsvegur crosses the Elliðaár river. Large areas of vegetation and footpaths were also submerged around the Norðlingaholt neighbourhood and the Rauðhólar pseudo-craters where the Bugða river overflowed its banks as well.

Daníel Freyr Jónsson, Eldfjalla- og náttúruvárhópur Suðurlands (FB)

Eldfjalla- og náttúruvárhópur Suðurlands credits the flooding in Norðlingaholt in part to human intervention, as the pedestrian and horse bridge there significantly narrows the Bugða river. As of noon on Sunday, the water level of the Bugða river had almost reached the bridge floor.



A Golden Opportunity: New Program Teaches Vocational Skills to Young People

A new program called Tækifærið (‘the opportunity’) aims to teach young people vocational skills that will allow them to secure steady employment, Vísir reports. In 2022, Tækifærið will offer two, 13-week courses, which will teach practical skills such as how to rip out and replace flooring, paint furniture, and fix electrical wiring, as well as help participants hone their mental, physical, and social skills along the way and connect them with future employers.

The first class has six participants and is being held in Borgarfjörður, West Iceland. It received funding from the Development Fund for Employment and Education, the Mental Health Support Fund, and Landsbankinn, and is free of charge for participants.

‘Each participant must want to change their life for the better’

Tækifærið is the brainchild of Björk Vilhelmsdóttir, a social worker and former member of the Reykjavík City Council. It is founded on one of the United Nations’ three universal values: Leave No One Behind.

“Tækifærið’s organizers have faith in people—all people,” explains the program website. “We’re ready to work with those who are the furthest from the labour market; these individuals possess countless strengths. Tækifærið is built around the strengths of participants and those who work with them. We’re well aware of our weaknesses but are trying our best not to let them dictate our lives anymore.”

The program promises to empower participants, but that empowerment must be self-motivated: “The basic premise of empowerment is that people take responsibility of their own lives…Each participant must want to change their life for the better.”

Half of unemployed individuals are foreign nationals

While the program is targeted at young people in general, Tækifærið will undoubtedly be helpful for young foreign nationals living in Iceland. Unemployment in Iceland is currently 5.2%, or roughly 10,000 people. Just under half of that group, or 43%, are foreign nationals.

Vísir interviewed Alfredo Correia, from Portugal, who is one of the six participants in Tækifærið’s spring 2022 class. “I came to Iceland to grow up, because in my country it’s very hard to live,” he said. Alfredo has no formal education and decided to move abroad to seek better opportunities.

Björk is optimistic that the first class will be successful in finding work after completing the program. “Come May, I’ll be ready to take offers from the business community,” she said, “and I know there will be plenty of them.”