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Janna Dam, Lebanon

One of the major water veins of Lebanon, from Adonis valley to Beirut, is threatening important biodiversity hotspots. Despite a halt order, construction continues. Opponents sent a drone to get the proofs


Despite its relatively abundant water resources, Lebanon is significantly water-stressed with water availability falling short of international standards by over 150 m3 per person every year. According to the government's plans, to alleviate the country’s water problems, the Janna dam project was approved as part of a wider strategy across the country in 2009 and its construction effectively began in 2013. The dam will have a capacity of 38 cubic meters and will supply the region of Byblos as well as the northern part of Beirut and its suburbs. In addition, the site will also include a hydroelectric power plant supplying the grid with electricity. The project will take place in a region called the Adonis valley, where the Abraham river passes. Home to many natural springs and more than 700 species of animals and plants, some of them endemic, it’s considered to be one of the most biodiverse areas of the Middle-East. In addition to its high ecological value, the Adonis valley has always been an area of important cultural significance. The valley, named after the Phoenician deity Adonis, has many temples and Ottoman-era water mills scattered along the banks of the Abraham river passing through. The project is said to have impacts on various levels. Hydrologically-speaking, the dam will affect river flow and disrupt the vast underground network of aquifers feeding the Jeita spring and significantly draining it. This spring is Beirut’s main water source and of utmost importance for the underground rivers passing through the Jeita caverns. In addition, the carbonate rocks of the area form karst containers, a permeable geological structure that makes water retention very difficult and is hence not suitable for building a dam. Thousands of trees have already been chopped down and hundreds of thousands more are projected to follow suit, causing erosion, destruction of habitats and whole ecosystems including the 16,000 acre Jabal Moussa Biosphere Reserve, a few miles downstream of where the dam is being built. The reserve, a UNESCO-recognized biosphere, is recognized as a protected by the Ministry of Agriculture.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Janna Dam, Lebanon
State or province:Mount Lebanon
Location of conflict:Nahr Ibrahim
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Deforestation
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The dam is expected to have a fixed storage capacity of 38 million cubic meters and a mobile storage capacity of between 80 and 90 million cubic meters. The dam will provide around 700,000 people (Within the Jbeil and Northern Beirut areas) with drinking and irrigation water as well as generating 4 MW of Energy.

Level of Investment for the conflictive project300,000,000.00
Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:11/03/2013
Company names or state enterprises:Constructura Andrade Gutierrez S.A. (AG) from Brazil
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Energy and Water
Ministry of Environment
Council for Development and Reconstruction
Establishment of the Water for Beirut and Mount-Lebanon
International and Finance InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Lebanon Eco Movement, which is a large network of environmental organizations and associations assembling around sixty NGOs from all over Lebanon
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Local government/political parties
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
Street protest/marches
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Desertification/Drought, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Soil erosion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusUnknown
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project temporarily suspended
Proposal and development of alternatives:Use of underground water recharged yearly by snowmelt and rainfall [2]
Cluster of smaller dams, posing lesser threats on the environment [3]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Not enough pressure was exerted for the project to be stopped completely. The cessation order was not applied. In addition, no serious alternatives were proposed by activists. The project also had a lot of proponents even from the region where it is being built, including mayors. It is also important to note that the whole process was very shady and secretive, making it difficult for activists and opponents to get information about the project.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Establishment of the Water of Beirut and Mount Lebanon, Janna Dam Construction Project
[click to view]

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

Project Information Document
[click to view]

Greater Beirut Water Supply Augmentation Project Environmental and Social Impact Assessment - Part 1
[click to view]

TC Lebanon: Protection of Jeita Spring
[click to view]

Greater Beirut Water Supply Augmentation Project Environmental and Social Impact Assessment - Part 2
[click to view]

[1] A Dam is built in ‘Paradise’
[click to view]

Paradise Lost: Jannah flooded with Brazilian corruption and political infighting
[click to view]

The battle to save Lebanon's pristine Adonis Valley
[click to view]

About Lebanon Eco Movement
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[2] Interview with Dr. Samir Zaatiti, Hydrologist
[click to view]

[3] interview with Paul Abi Rached, Environmental Activist
[click to view]

[click to view]

Drone footage of the construction works
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Christophe Maroun
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:2514
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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