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Seyfe Lake Drought, Turkey


The main reasons of the drought in Seyfe Lake are repercussions of state policies on agriculture and population and regional climate change processes that are tied to anthropogenic interventions. Drainage of wetlands (drainage channels), excessive and inefficient irrigation (illegal caisson wells), drinking water problems (water uses that disregards the watercourses feeding the lake, the wildlife and lake ecosystem), states encouragement of the inappropriate type of agricultural products leading to the disturbance of the closed basins water regime), anthropocentric climate change trends.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Seyfe Lake Drought, Turkey
State or province:Kirsehir
Location of conflict:Seyfe Lake Basin (13 villages of Mucur District)
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Water access rights and entitlements
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Specific commodities:Water
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Seyfe Lakes two primary water sources have been under heavy pressure: one through the building of a dam, the other through diversion of the water source for drinking water.

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Project area:150000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:30000
Start of the conflict:1960
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs, General Directorate of Nature Conservation and National Park Department of Wetlands, Kirsehir Provincial Forestry and Water Affairs Directorate, Kirsehir Provincial Food, Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Directorate, Kirsehir Provincial Culture and Tourism Directorate, Kirsehir Governorship, Kirsehir Municipality, Mucur Municipality, Malya Public Agricultural Operation Directorate.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Steppe Environment Association (Kirsehir), the joint Life Plus Youth Program of UNDP Turkey and Coca-Cola financed a 45.000 USD conservation project whose monitoring and evaluation was carried out by YADA Foundation (Yasama Dair Vakfi in Turkish). Seyfe Lake Ecology Conservation Society also suppo
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
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
Media based activism/alternative media
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, 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
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Other environmental related diseases
Other Health impactsThe resulting salinisation from the lakes drying not only spreads to the agricultural fields but also leads to increased numbers of respiratory cancer cases.
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Other socio-economic impactsLoss of income, difficulties in access to water, loss of cultural heritage and loss of or damage on historical artifacts
Project StatusUnknown
Conflict outcome / response:Migration/displacement
The region has seen migration as a result of the drought.
Development of alternatives:- Regional dissemination of the CATAK project initiated by the Ministry of Agriculture which aims to integrate water efficient products such as clover and vetch to the basin instead of the wrong agricultural products pattern (for ex. sugar beet).
- As a result of the conservation work carried out in the region, the local government, which is Mucur Municipality, declared that it will consider drinking water sources closer to the district and will no longer use Seyfe springs.
- State Hydraulic Works statement that illegal caisson wells will be closed.
- Start of a dialogue between Kirsehir Governorship and Special Provincial Administration in order to close drainage channels.
-Joining of Kirsehir Ahi Evran Universitys Environment and Birdwatching Club members to the local NGO and playing important roles in this organisation.
- Kirsehir Ahi Evran University Rectorship and Kirsehir Provincial Forestry and Water Affairs Directorates candidateship to the Second National Wetlands Congress and their hosting the event on 23.06.2011.
- Starting of ecotourism activities based on the use of mud-brick architecture with local NGOs and communities.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:The regional conservation work aims to remove the conflict and to resolve the conflict management between the relevant stakeholders by taking an eco-centric stand. At this point, environmental justice parameters particular to the region have been defined, alternative solutions have been laid out and, among these alternatives, possible ones were tried to be adopted. As a result, for the sake of environmental justice, local organisation was completed and all stakeholders met on a common ground through workshops, meetings, congress and field studies in order to remove the conflicts between these different parties.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

An output of the conservation project: Seyfe Lake Emergency Action Plan (see below)

Proceeding; Interventions to the Seyfe Lake Basin from the perspective of biopolitics, II. National Wetlands Congress, Okan Urker, 23.06.2012, Kirsehir.

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Radikal, Newspaper in Turkis:
[click to view]

Steppe Environment Association (Kirsehir)
[click to view]

Hurriyet (in English):
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[click to view]

From NTV News:
[click to view]

Another output of the conservation project is the short film (13 minutes) entitled Lesser Kestrel, the winged phenomenon of sustainability on the importance of the species that uses the local mud-brick houses as habitat and that formed the foundation of the regional ecotourism activities.

Other comments:The project entitled 'Seyfe Drought Area Becomes a Lake' aims to prepare an urgent action plan by working with the local people and all the relevant stakeholders (public authorities, NGOs, university, local government, media etc) in order to identify the reasons as well as those responsible behind the drought in Seyfe hierarchically and to build public awareness. In this sense it cannot be considered as a conflict-creating project as defined in the form, but rather it involves work to compensate the conflict.
The conservation project has been completed and a local environmental association was established. Since the end of the project, new works are being undertaken addressing the environmental problems of the region.
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Contributor:Okan Urker
Last update08/04/2014
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