An Anthropological Approach to HEPPs in Eastern Anatolia: The Case of Aksu Valley
Both water and development have very important functions in human life. Throughout the history, people have designed and constructed dams, reservoirs and irrigation systems to supply agricultural lands with water as well as converting water into energy as part of development projects. While water resources development projects are mostly preferred as they are cheaper and clean compared to other alternatives, impacts of such projects on people, their livelihoods and nature have been particularly devastating in many parts of the world such as Asia, Africa and Latin America. Recently, with an argument of increasing energy demand and reduction in dependence on imported energy, Turkish government has initiated some sort of “mobilization” for small hydroelectric power plants (HEPPs) to be run by private companies, particulary in the Eastern Anatolia and Black Sea regions. Despite recent initiatives, there is no established water policy in Turkey. Outsourcing control over free-flowing streams out of local representational structures into the hands of private companies has resulted in social movements and protests against these projects. I conducted a fieldwork in one of the valleys in Eastern Anatolia where two HEPPs have been constructed. Methods used during the 8-week fieldwork included participant observation, focus group studies and in-depth interviews. Privatization of the water resource in the Aksu Valley (formerly Salaçor) not only gave the entire control of water to the contractor company for 49 years, but also left all the public services in the valley to the mercy of the company while use of water has been historically well-managed by the local community, who was in control and distribution of the water. This paper discusses outcomes of the HEPP project in daily life of the local people in Aksu Valley, asserting that users of water resources should have been considered as participants in water management, planning, and decision-making of development projects. A drop of water is a sea to an ant, Afghan proverb
Pervin Yanikkaya Aydemir,
An Anthropological Approach to HEPPs in Eastern Anatolia: The Case of Aksu Valley, Journal of Water Resources and Ocean Science.
Vol. 2, No. 5,
2013, pp. 115-124.
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