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Daryan Dam and its transboundary impacts, Iran

"Water is a resource that does not belong to any particular nation or sect. Instead of being used as a tool in a nationalist conflict, water could – and should – be utilized as a means of cooperation and a tool for coexistence."


The Daryan Dam is a large dam currently under construction on the Sirwan River, located in Kermanshah Province of Iranian Kurdistan, 28.5 km from the Iraqi border. The government of Iran, who is promoting the project, says the dam is built for the purpose of producing hydroelectric power, as well as for irrigation purposes in southwestern Iran. The project is triggering transboundary conflict in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). A series of Iranian dams already exist on the river, which provide hydroelectric power in Iran, but restrict water flows to Iraq. Despite this, currently there is no agreement between Iraq and Iran with regards to the use of the Sirwan/Diyala River. Most of the rivers which run through the KRI emanate from Turkey or Iran, and the potential water crisis will be instigated by large-scale dams outside of the KRI’s borders coming on-stream, primarily the Daryan Dam in Iran, and to a lesser extent the Ilisu Dam in Turkey, both of which are nearing completion. In recent years, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) itself began constructing additional dams, which are viewed as a threat throughout the rest of Iraq. In Baghdad and Erbil alike, nationalist rhetoric is increasing, and water carries great potential to play a significant role in future disputes between the two governments. Controversially, though KRG politicians and civil activists are in opposition of the construction of dams on shared rivers in Turkey and Iran, they support the construction of dams in the KRI in order to control access to water resources flowing to Central and Southern Iraq.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Daryan Dam and its transboundary impacts, Iran
Country:Iran, Islamic Rep.
State or province:Kurdish Region of Iran and Iraq
Location of conflict:Kermanshah Province
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Water
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The dam is expected to produce 230 megawatts of electricity. In

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Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:2012
Company names or state enterprises:FARAB Water and Energy Projects (FARAB) from Iran, Islamic Rep.
Relevant government actors:Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)
Kurdistan Region of Iraq government
Kurdistan Region of Iran government
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Save the Tigris and Iraqi Marshes Campaign
Save Kanî Bil Campaign
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Industrial workers
Local ejos
In 2011, workers on the project held a protest against unpaid wages [2]
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Hunger strikes and self immolation
The Save Kanî Bil Campaign released a statement from civil society demanding support for the strikers and actions to save the spring. In December 2015, a letter was sent to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, signed by more than 3,000 activists and public figures.
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Other Environmental impactsImpact on the natural spring of Kani Bil, of great cultural value also
Health ImpactsPotential: Malnutrition, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Under negotiation
Proposal and development of alternatives:The Save the Tigris and Iraqi Marshes Campaign believe water is a resource that does not belong to any particular state, nation or sect. Water should not be used as a political weapon, and water scarcity need not be a cause of conflict. Rather, water can be used as a tool for sustainability, cooperation and coexistence between the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and its riparian neighbors. Since 2012, the Save the Tigris and Iraqi Marshes Campaign has been advocating against the construction of Ilisu, Daryan and other large dams to preserve the cultural and environmental heritage of the Tigris River, and for the sustainable and equitable use of water for all
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:While there are protest, and international disputes, the project making progress.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Daryan Dam report. Report by Kamal Chomani and Toon Bijnens

Designed and Edited by Kira Walker. Save the Tigris and Iraqi Marshes Campaign 2016
[click to view]

[2] News on workers' strike (in Persian)
[click to view]

Daryan Dam Infographic
[click to view]

Iraqi Marshes workshop at the 3rd session of the Iraqi Social Forum
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Campaign Save Kani Bil natural spring
[click to view]

Call for collaboration on the implementation of UNESCO recommendations for the Iraqi Marshes!
[click to view]

Other comments:Most of this information is retrieved from the report "THE IMPACT OF THE DARYAN DAM ON THE KURDISTAN REGION OF IRAQ" For further information on the report, contact the campaign via: Toon Bijnens, [email protected], (English) Ismaeel Dawood. [email protected][mailto:[email protected]]
Meta information
Contributor:Daniela Del Bene, ICTA-UAB
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:2455
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Legal notice / Aviso legal
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