South-East Anatolian Project (GAP)

In order to increase agricultural productivity in Turkey and alleviate the poverty of the south-eastern provinces, the Turkish government launched in the early 1980s the ambitious « South-Eastern Anatolia Programme » (GAP, « Great Anatolia Project », in Turkish: « Güneydoðu Anadolu Projesi ») covering a total area of 74,000 km² (1). The programme integrated some 495 projects which envisaged the construction of 22 dams (among which the Atatürk dam, the sixth largest dam in the world) on the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers and their tributaries, 19 power plants and an irrigation network of 7,000 km to irrigate a total area of 1,7 million hectares, increasing the irrigated land in Turkey by 50 %. The power plants are due to be all « on line » by 2005, adding 13 billion KW to Turkey’s generating capacity, almost doubling its current electrical energy production.

Süleyman Demirel, the formerPresident of Turkey and many times its Prime minister since 1965, who is also an engineer specialized in irrigation, electrical technologies and dam construction, greatly influenced this project.

The GAP – located in Kurdish areas – has been delayed following attacks by the PKK and troubles over financing. Its completion, scheduled for 2005 for the dams and power plants, and 2010 for the irrigation network, will have required an estimated $ 32 billion (2).

The project has consequences for neighbouring Syria and Iraq which are dependent from the water of the Tigris and Euphrates. The two rivers have their sources in Turkey. The Euphrates makes the border between Turkey and Syria before entering Iraq while the Tigris flows directly from Turkey into Iraq where the two rivers join and form the 200 km long Shatt Al Arab waterway that flows into the Gulf.

A solution was proposed by the Turkish government as the « Peace pipeline ». The idea is to tap water of two rivers which flow into Mediterranean near the Syrian border and to divert them through a huge pipeline system to the south. One of these pipelines would cross Syria and take water down to eastern Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, including Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE while the second would go southwards trough Syria and Jordan along the coast to the red Sea in Saudi Arabia. Turkey has proposed to supply this water as part of a commercial deal or in exchange for oil. To date, there is no positive response from the countries which would benefit from this water, the main reason being that the water could easily be cut off in times of political difficulties: they don’t forget that in 1987 the Turkish president, Türgüt Özal, threatened Syria to cut off the Euphrates water in order to force Damascus to stop its support to the Kurdish rebels…

Financial ressources

  • Internal ressources: 76% ( $ 24.32 billion)
  • External resources: 24% ($ 7.68 billion)


  • US Exim Bank: 111 million $
  • Swiss Commercial: 467 million $
  • Swiss-German Commercial: 782 million $
  • European investment Bank: 104 million $
  • World Bank: 120 million $
  • Council of Europe Social Development Fund: 183 million $
  • Italian Government: 85 million $
  • French Government: 33 million $
  • German Government: 15 million $
  • Austrian government: 200 million $

Total: 2.1 billion $

On the other hand, grants (approximately equivalent to 59 million $) were provided by institutions like the World Bank, USA Trade Development Agency, Canadian International Development Agency, US National Institute of Health, Israel Centre for International Cooperation, etc.

The UNDP is supporting an Umbrella programme focusing on the Sustainable Development themes of gender, environment, livelihoods and poverty. This umbrella mobilises specialised UN agencies (for example WHO, FAO and UNIDO) and civil society organisations with an overall budget of 5.4 million $.

Source: 2000 Annual Investment Programs, SPO


(1) The plan covers 9 provinces: Adiyaman, Batman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Kilis, Mardin, Siirt, Sanliurfa and Sirnak.

(2)From the total amount of $ 32 billion, $ 14 billion have been spent by 2000.