Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP), Turkey


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
NameSoutheastern Anatolia Project (GAP), Turkey
ProvinceSoutheast Anatolia Region
SiteAdiyaman, Batman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Kilis, Mardin, Siirt, Sanliurfa, Sirnak
Accuracy of LocationLOW country/state level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Dams and water distribution conflicts
Interbasin water transfers/transboundary water conflicts
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsWith 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 (in hectares)7,500,000
Level of Investment (in USD)32 billion USD
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Population6000000
Relevant government actorsGAP Administration, State Hydraulic Works
International and Financial 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 organisations and other supportersHasankeyf 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.
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationCreation 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-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Otherloss of income, difficulties in access to water, loss of cultural heritage/ loss of or damage on historical artifact
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.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 and Materials

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(see attached file)

Bosshard, P. 1999 A Case Study of the Ilisu Hydropower Project (Turkey). Berne: Erklaerung von Bern.
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Tuna, N., J. Ozturk and J. Velibeyoglu (eds.) 2001
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Salvage Project of the Archaeological Heritage

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

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.

GAP. 1989. GAP Master Plan Calismasi. Final Master Plan Raporu (Final Master Plan Report of the GAP Project). Ankara: GAP.

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.

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

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
ContributorZeynep Kadirbeyoglu
Last update08/09/2014
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