Water Management and Diplomacy (IJWMD)

What is the Role of Dams in Development ?


Civil Engineer Retired Deputy Head, State Hydraulic Works (DSI), 06100-Ankara/TURKEY cakmak-cuma@hotmail.com  


Although the amounts of water resources are enough for the entire world, the distribution of them in time and space shows uneven pattern. The water need is increasing with heavy industrial and agricultural requirements, while available water in the world remains as a fixed source. Economic growth, socio-cultural, and environmental developments are being realized following these changes. In order to achieve sustainable management of water resources, these changes have to be taken into consideration in water-related development projects. Demand for water is steadily increasing through out the world, even though the fresh water resources are limited and unevenly distributed, during the past three centuries, the amount of water withdrawn from fresh water resources has increased by a factor of 35, whereas world population by a factor 8. The engineering of dams, which provides regular water from reservoirs of dams to be used in case of demand pattern, is a vital part of the civilization. Dams have played a key role in the development since the third millennium BC when the first great civilizations evolved on major rivers, such as Tigris-Euphrates, the Nile and the Indus. From these early times dams were built for flood control, water supply, irrigation and navigation. Dams also had been built to produce motive power and electricity since the industrial revolution. Development priorities changed, experience accumulated with the construction and operation of dams. Although the importance of water is well known in the human life and civilization around the world, still various groups argue that expected economic benefits are not being produced and that major environmental, economic and social costs are not being taken into account. By the end of 20th century, there were 45000 large dams in over 150 countries. According to the same classification there are 625 large dams in Turkey. All over the world, 50% of the large dams were built mainly for irrigation. It is estimated that dams contribute to 12-16% of world food production. Almost all major dams are built for hydropower. Hydropower currently provides 19% of worlds total electricity supply and is used in over 150 countries. Approximately 12<% of large dams are designated as domestic water supply dams.

Keywords: Dams,Sustainable development,

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