Karameh Dam, Jordan

The Karama Dam, with a capacity of 55 Million m3, was constructed in 1995 on Wadi Mallaha in the Jordan Valley area in order to store water for irrigational uses. The dam was constructed in spite of experts’ warnings on many levels.


Jordan is one of the most water stressed countries in the world, and the construction of dams was a top priority for the Jordanian government. Ten dams were constructed in Jordan, between get 1997 and 2006. One of these dams, the Karameh dam was constructed between 1995 and 1997 for irrigation purposes during the dry season, in spite of experts’ warnings of its potential failure. It was built on Wadi Mallah in the Jordan valley, 6km north of the town of Karameh. [1][2][3]

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Basic Data
NameKarameh Dam, Jordan
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific CommoditiesWater
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe catchment area measures 61.2 squared Km, and is covered by the recent deposits of the Jordan valley floor, making it highly porous and permeable and allowing rapid infiltration of rainwater. [1]

The lake has a surface of 4 squared Km. [1]

This earth fill dam has a 55 Million Cubic Meters storage volume. It is 45m high and 2050m long, with a 10m wide crest. Draw off works include a 5.2m diameter tunnel 462m long, a 38m high intake tower, a 385m long spillway chute, 3-4m width, 6.3km of diversion canals, and 500m of diversion bunds, a pump station with 4 pumps each of 1.33 l/s capacity, and a 1.2m diameter twin conveyance pipeline of 3.6km length. [1][2][5]

It receives an average rainfall of 180 mm, while the annual potential evaporation rate is 320 mm. [4]
Project Area (in hectares)400
Level of Investment (in USD)75,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date1995
Company Names or State EnterprisesSalini Impregilo from Italy
Consolidated Consultants Groub (CCG) from Jordan
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Water & Irrigation - Jordan Valley Authority
International and Financial InstitutionsArab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD) from Kuwait
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage), Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
OtherWater Salinity
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Development of AlternativesSince the dam was constructed and is operating, the people who initially opposed the project want to draw lessons out of this experience stating that:

"It is a hard lesson spending around $ 75 million for a project with no use what so ever. It is also a good lesson to show that consulting companies are not always to trust and that accountability should be an integral part of any consultancy."
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The Dam is in operation despite the early warnings from specialists. The companies involved in the implementation of this failed project were not held accountable. It also poses danger on nearby communities since it is located on seismic fault lines.
Sources and Materials

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[4] - Geological and geotechnical characteristics of Karameh dam site, north of the Dead Sea, Jordan
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[1] - The Tragedy of the Karama Dam Project/Jordan
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[6] - Geologic hazards of an embankment dam constructed across a major, active plate boundary fault
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[2] - Karameh Dam - CC Group
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[5] - Karameh Dam - Salini Impregilo
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Other Documents

Karameh Dam http://silkroadimages.galleryalsharq.com/UserLanding/SearchResourcesDetails.aspx?ID=6507b88f-9a4c-44f9-99f6-5ab628c0af6a.JPG#.Wn1-cSODIcg
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Meta Information
ContributorChristophe Maroun - [email protected]
Last update09/02/2018