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Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP), Turkey

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Planned for hydroelectric power generation purposes in the 1970s, the Southeastern Anatolia Project (in short GAP Project) has evolved into a multi-purpose one with socio-economic/rural development dimensions after the 1980s. Besides the construction of the dam and relared hydroelectric power plants, the Southeastern Anatolia Project Regional Development Administration was established providing funding in the fields of rural development, cultural asssets preservation, supporting entrepreneurship and womens issues thus creating sub-entities and offices. The project forsees the construction of 22 dams and in those already completed, there have been some conflicts regarding displacement and resettlement issues. Moreover, regarding cultural assets, urgent excavations took place in areas that would submerge under dam lake waters. Furthermore, during the construction of some of the dams, certains settlements claimed the depletion of their groundwater (for example Suruc). The most important and ongoing conflict is the construction of Ilisu Dam that is both an important part of the GAP project and which will flood Hasankeyf settlement.

Basic Data
Name of conflict:Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP), Turkey
State or province:Southeast Anatolia Region
Location of conflict:Adiyaman, Batman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Kilis, Mardin, Siirt, Sanliurfa, Sirnak
Accuracy of locationLOW (Country level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Interbasin water transfers/transboundary water conflicts
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Electricity
Project Details and Actors
Project details

With the completion of 22 dams and 19 hydroelectric power plants, around 28% of Turkeys waters will be affected. The dams will be situated on Euphrates and Tigris Rivers and their tributaries. A total of 1,7 billion ha land is targeted to be irrigated and 1700 MW electric energy generated.

Project area:7,500,000
Level of Investment for the conflictive project32 billion USD
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:6000000
Relevant government actors:GAP Administration, State Hydraulic Works
International and Finance InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Akbank from Turkey
GarantiBank from Turkey
European Union (EU)
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) from United States of America
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Hasankeyf Volunteers, the Turkish Nature Association (Doga Dernegi), Friends of the Earth, Berne Declaration, the platform of chambers and NGOs under the Chamber of Construction Engineers, Initiative for Sustaining Hasankeyf, Association for Sustaining Hasankeyf ve Tigris Valley, Ecologistas en Accion, ECA-Watch, Bank Track, CounterCurrent, Kurdish Human Rights Project, International Rivers, Ilisu Dam Campaign.
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Shareholder/financial activism.
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Other socio-economic impactsloss of income, difficulties in access to water, loss of cultural heritage/ loss of or damage on historical artifact
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Being a project sprawling to a very wide area, the GAP project consists of various conflicts against the construction of dams and irrigation infrastructure. In time some of these have been successsful (for example the dissolution of the consortium in charge of Ilisu Dams construction in early 2000s) while others did not lead to any results.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

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References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

(see attached file)

Tuna, N., J. Ozturk and J. Velibeyoglu (eds.) 2001
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Bosshard, P. 1999 A Case Study of the Ilisu Hydropower Project (Turkey). Berne: Erklaerung von Bern.
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GAP. 1989. GAP Master Plan Calismasi. Final Master Plan Raporu (Final Master Plan Report of the GAP Project). Ankara: GAP.

Tuna, N., J. Ozturk and J. Velibeyoglu (eds.) 2002 Salvage Project of the Archaeological Heritage of the Ilsu and Carchemish Dam Reservoirs: Activities in 2000. Ankara: METU Historic Environment Research Center.

Morvaridi, B. 1990. 'Agrarian Reform and Land Use Policy in Turkey: Implications for the Southeast Anatolia Project.' Land Use Policy 7 (4):303-13.

Hildyard, N., A. Tricarico, S. Eberhardt, H. Drillisch, and D. Norlen 2000 'The Ilisu Dam, the World Commission on Dams and export credit reform: the final report of a fact-finding mission to the lisu Dam region', 9-16 October 2000. London: Ilisu

Salvage Project of the Archaeological Heritage

Carkoglu, A., and M. Eder. 2005. 'Developmentalism alla Turca: The Southeastern Anatolia Development Project (GAP).' In Environmentalism in Turkey: Between Democracy and Development?, ed. F. Adaman and M. Arsel. Aldershot: Ashgate.

of the Ilsu and Carchemish Dam Reservoirs: Activities in 1999. Ankara: METU Historic Environment Research Center.

Kibaroglu, A. 2002. 'Design and Management of Irrigation Systems: The Southeastern Anatolia Development Project.' In Modern and Traditional Irrigation Technologies in the Eastern Mediterranean, ed. M. Ozay and H. A. Bicak. Ottawa: International Development Research Centre.

Meta information
Contributor:Zeynep Kadirbeyoglu
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1033
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