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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
Name of conflict:Karameh Dam, Jordan
State or province:Balqa
Location of conflict:Karameh
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 commodities:Water
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The 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]

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Project area:400
Level of Investment for the conflictive project75,000,000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:1995
Company names or state enterprises:Salini Impregilo from Italy
Consolidated Consultants Groub (CCG) from Jordan
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Water & Irrigation - Jordan Valley Authority
International and Finance InstitutionsArab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD) from Kuwait
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Creation 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
Other Environmental impactsWater Salinity
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Proposal and development of alternatives:Since 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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain: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 & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] - The Tragedy of the Karama Dam Project/Jordan
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[4] - Geological and geotechnical characteristics of Karameh dam site, north of the Dead Sea, Jordan
[click to view]

[6] - Geologic hazards of an embankment dam constructed across a major, active plate boundary fault
[click to view]

[2] - Karameh Dam - CC Group
[click to view]

[5] - Karameh Dam - Salini Impregilo
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Christophe Maroun - [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:3250
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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