Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP)
The Southeastern Anatolia Project (referred to as GAP from the Turkish acronym for Güneydoğu Anadolu Projesi) covers nine provinces within the Tigris-Euphrates basins. The water resources component of the GAP Master Plan envisages to construct 22 dams, 19 power plants, and numerous networks of irrigation canals to deliver water to over nearly 1.7 million hectares of land. The Tigris and Euphrates rivers lie within Upper Mesopotamia, also known as the Fertile Crescent, where the first civilizations and agriculture within the Middle East arose.
In the 1930s, Mustafa Kamal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, enacted policies to survey Turkey’s rivers for energy as a means to meet the nation’s growing electricity demands. Gauging stations along the Euphrates and Tigris rivers were established, and geological, topographical, and groundwater surveys were conducted to maximize both the surface and subsurface water resources within the basins. By the 1950s, reconnaissance surveys were extended to Turkey’s 26 different river basins to develop energy and irrigation potential within all river basins.
During the 1960s and 1970s, separate water resources plans to develop the Euphrates and Tigris rivers were drawn, which in 1977 were merged into one water resources development project called the Southeast Anatolian Project. In the 1980s, the Keban and Karakaya Dams along the upper Euphrates river were developed and the Southeast Anatolia Project was later expanded into a multi-sector project that included not only irrigation and hydropower production, but also urban and rural infrastructure, forestry, education, and health sectors. The multi-sector GAP Master Plan was finalized in 1989 and a separate GAP Administration was established. Construction of the Ataturk Dam was completed in 1990 and irrigation for the GAP started at the end of 1994, when one of the twin Sanliurfa Tunnels from the Ataturk Dam was opened.
GAP’s projected completion date is scheduled for 2010, provided current financial difficulties and inflation do not further delay the project. When the GAP is completed, 28.5 percent of the total water potential of the country will be brought under control through facilities along the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers. GAP will irrigate nearly 1.7 million hectares of land, or 20 percent of Turkey’s total irrigable land. Annual energy production from GAP will produce 22 percent of Turkey’s total energy production with an installed energy capacity of 7476 MW.