78’000 affected by Ilisu dam?
8 September 2000
The Ilisu consortium has so far estimated the number of people affected by the Ilisu dam at 12,000-15,000. A new report by World Bank expert Ayse Kudat now puts the figure of people actually affected at 19,000-34,000, and the number of people potentially affected at 55,000-78,000. The report has been commissioned by the Swiss Export Risk Guarantee, which coordinates a consortium of international export credit agencies considering to fund the Ilisu dam. The Swiss advocacy group, The Berne Declaration (BD), and the British Ilisu Dam Campaign released the report to the public on 7 September.
Not only is the number of affected people much higher than expected. Ayse Kudat’s report also identifies a long list of project-specific, economic and political conditions which must be fulfilled for the affected people to be successfully rehabilitated. The World Bank expert puts forward nine specific recommendations, among which the employment of illiterate farmers in urban areas which are plagued by rampant unemployment. Her report also indicates that a successful rehabilitation is only possible if martial law in the Kurdish area is lifted, and if the area profits from an economic upturn. The document gives no guidance on how to address these issues however.
In a critique of the resettlement report, the Berne Declaration points out that some of the conditions for successful rehabilitation have so far never been implemented in practice. In spite of this, the risk of failure lies squarely with the affected people, particularly since the export credit agencies are not prepared to make their funding conditional on the actual implementation of the rehabilitation program. “While these agencies intend to guarantee the risks of their exporters, no guarantees are given to the people affected by Ilisu”, the BD’s critique points out.
Ayse Kudat’s report mentions that “there are a large number of people affected by previously constructed dams who are still waiting to be resettled, sometimes for many years”. In the past 30 years, only about 100 families have been resettled every year. Commenting on the new report, Peter Bosshard of the Berne Declaration says: “If the Turkish authorities are serious about their commitment to international standards, they should start with the problems which they have already created. In the meantime, we will support the people affected by Ilisu in their resistance against a dam which again shifts all the risks to them.”