South-Eastern Anatolia Project: Impacts of the Atatürk Dam

The South-eastern Anatolia Project (GAP), as it is presently conceived, is a $32 billion, multi-sectoral, integrated regional development programme. Its main objective is to strengthen the economic, social, and institutional aspects of human development in this economically disadvantaged region by raising the existing living standards and quality of life of its people. With proper planning and management, water is expected to be the engine for the sustainable development of this region in the coming decades.

The GAP region covers the provinces of Adiyaman, Batman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Kilis, Mardin, Siirt, Şanliurfa, and Şirnak which represent approximately 10 per cent of the area of Turkey. The region also accounts for nearly 10 per cent of the country’s total population (6.1 million inhabitants according to the 1997 census). According to the present plan, by the year 2010, the GAP is expected to generate 27 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of hydroelectric energy annually, and irrigate 1.7 million hectares (ha) of land, accounting for nearly one-fifth of the irrigable land of Turkey. This would be accomplished through the construction of twenty-two dams, nineteen hydropower plants with a total installed capacity of 7500 megawatts (MW), and extensive irrigation and drainage networks. The project is expected to almost double the existing area of artificial lakes to 228,136 ha in the country.

By Cecilia Tortajada, Chapter of the book: Water as a Focus for Regional Development, edited by Asit K. Biswas, Olcay Ünver and Cecilia Tortajada, 2004, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, pages 190-250.

Chapter online