Travelers' Stories, Tell Your Story Here..!


GAP is a multi-sectoral and integrated regional development project based on the concept of sustainable development. Its basic aim is to eliminate regional development disparities by raising people's income level and living standards; and to contribute to such national development targets as social stability and economic growth by enhancing the productive and employment generating capacity of the rural sector. The project area covers 9 provinces in the Euphrates-Tigris basins and Upper Mesopotamia plains (Adiyaman, Batman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Kilis, Mardin, Siirt, Sanliurfa and Sirnak).

The original initiative consisted of irrigation and hydroelectric energy production projects on the Euphrates and the Tigris. Along the 80s, the project was transformed into a multi-sectoral regional development programme of a socio-economic character. This programme covers such sectors as irrigation, hydraulic energy production, agriculture, urban and rural infrastructure, forestry, education and health. Its water resources programme envisages the construction of 22 dams and 19 power plants and irrigation schemes on an area extending over 1.7 million hectares. The total cost of the project is 32 billion US $. The total installed capacity of its power plants is 7476 MW which means an annual production of 27 billion kWh.

Send postcards to your friends, buddies or family...!

The project is based upon the concept of sustainable development which aims at generating an environment in which future generations can fully develop themselves and reap the benefits of development. Equitable development, participation, protection of the environment, employment generation, spatial planning and infrastructure development are the basic strategies of GAP.



In Southeastern Anatolia, the geographical area covering the provinces of Adiyaman, Batman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Kilis, Mardin, Siirt, Sanliurfa and Sirnak is defined as the "GAP Region". Bordered by Syria to the south and Iraq to the southeast, the Region extends over an area of 75358 square kilometers, which is 9.7 percent of the total territory of the country. 20 percent of 8.5 million hectares of economically irrigable land in Turkey is in the GAP Region which mainly consist of the vast plains in the basins of the lower Euphrates and Tigris.

The Region is also named as the "Fertile Crescent" or "Upper Mesopotamia", and known to be the cradle of civilization in human history. Throughout history, the Region has served as a bridge ensuring passage from Anatolia to Mezopotamia.

The Tigris and the Euphrates, two important rivers of Turkey flow trough the Region. Both originating from the Eastern Anatolia, these two rivers reach sea in the Persian Gulf. Southeastern Anatolia receives less precipitation compared to the other regions of the country. Hence the idea was to utilize the rich water potential of these two rivers for irrigation and energy production purposes, and to regulate the otherwise irregular flow of both rivers.

The decision to utilize water resources in a rational manner belongs to Ataturk, the founder of Turkish Republic. While the country was making drives forward for development and change in all fields, the need for electricity in particular appeared on the forefront as one of the most urgent. Consequently, the Electricity Survey Administration (EIEI) was established in 1936 upon the order of Ataturk to produce energy from otherwise vainly flowing streams of the country. The Administration started its preliminary surveys intensively with the intensively with the Keban Project. In order to carry on studies on the river Euphrates with respect to various characteristics, the Administration established gauging stations on various points along the river. Geological and topographical works over the narrow passage of Keban is started in 1938. Then, in 1950-1960 period, emphasis was shifted by the EIEI on drillings on the Euphrates and the Tigris. Later, upon the emergence of new needs, another organization, the State Hydraulic Works (DSI) was established in 1954. It was upon the establishment of this organization that the idea of conducting water basin surveys emerged in Turkey. Consequently, the territory of the country was divided into 26 such basins to give way to survey and planning works. The first work for the development of water and land resources in the Euphrates basin was started by the Euphrates Planning Authority established in Diyarbakir in 1961. As a result of these works, the "Reconnaissance Report for the Euphrates Basin" appeared in 1964 with clarity on the irrigation and energy potential of the basin concerned. Another one, the "Reconnaissance Report for the Lower Euphrates Basin" followed the first one in 1966.

In 1968, the proposed water storage facilities and hydraulic plants and irrigation schemes of the Lower Euphrates Projects were contracted out to a group of domestic-foreign firms, the former feasibility studies and the latter for planning. These contracted works were completed in 1970. Meanwhile, work of similar nature was conducted for the Tigris Basin by the Diyarbakir Regional Directorate DSI. Hence, the overall picture about how the basins of Euphrates and Tigris were to be utilized gained clarity. Finally, in 1977 projects related to these two basins were merged and adopted as a single one under the title the "Southeastern Anatolian Project".

The task of addressing the whole region with in the framework of an integrated regional planning and ensuring the coordination of ongoing activities was assigned to the State Planning Organization (DPT) in 1986.

The Southeastern Anatolia Project Regional Development Organization was established by the Government Decree no 388 in Force of Law, published in the Official Gazette dated 6 November 1989. The objectives of the Organization includes the following; To take relevant measures for the rapid development of the territory covered by the GAP Region; to deliver services related to such areas as planning, infrastructure, licencing, housing, industry, agriculture, mining, energy, transportation and others which are essential for the materialization of relevant investments; to take measures to raise to raise the educational levels of the people living in the Region; and to ensure coordination among various agencies and organizations working along similar lines. The highest level decision making body of the Organization is the "GAP Higher Council" authorized to examine and decide on all kind of plans, projects and programs.

Under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister to be appointed by the former, the GAP Higher Council consists of the State Minister in charge of the GAP, the State Minister in charge of the State Planning Organization, and the Minister of Public Works and Settlement.

GAP Regional Development Administration (GAP Administration) is in charge of carrying out planning and implementation work in relation to regional development within the frame of the decisions taken by the GAP Higher Council.

The GAP Administration is organized with its Headquarters in Ankara and a Regional Directorate in Sanliurfa.

Other than dams, hydroelectric plants and irrigation schemes over the rivers of Euphrates and Tigris, the very concept of "Southeastern Anatolia Project" is conceived as a regional development drive aiming the multi-faceted and sustainable socio-economic development of the Region on the basis of a multi-sectoral and integrated approach which covers such diverse areas as urban, rural and agricultural infrastructure, transportation, industry, education, health, housing, tourism and investments in many other fields.

Upon the completion of the Project, 28% of the total water potential of Turkey will be brought under control through facilities on the Euphrates and Tigris which jointly flow more than 50 billion cubic meters of water per year. Furthermore, 1.7 million hectares of land will be under irrigation, and it will be possible to generate approximately 27 billion kWh electric energy annually with an installed capacity of 7476 megawatts.

The high potential generated in both agriculture and industry by the GAP will increase the income level of the Region fivefold and generate employment opportunities for 3.8 million people living in a region whose total population is projected to be over 9 million in 2005.

It is the original and basic task of the GAP Administration to plan and carry out all activities related to the development of the Region by a "comprehensive regional development approach" covering all social and economic sectors in a manner to observe the consistency of development objectives, targets and strategies. The GAP Master Plan is the basic guiding document in this track. With the implementation of projects, urban infrastructures will be developed and the population absorption capacities of the regional urban centers will be enhanced. GAP is a program in which all aspects of sustainable human development are considered in a package program that can take into account interactions between different sectors, activities and one that also serves as an umbrella to coordinate very many government agencies and other entities working in this particular area. The GAP is presently the grand project of the Republic of Turkey with its estimated total investment cost, US$ 32 billion. Of which about $ 13.7 billion was actually spent as of the end of 1998 for the realization of the Project.

The State of the Republic of Turkey has been attaching ever more importance to the elimination of regional disparities in the socio-economic development of the country. This concern s not solely the reflection of a desire for an equitable development. Rather, it originates from the sound diagnosis that mobilization of the development potential of under developed regions will contribute greatly to the realization of such national goals as economic growth, social stability and a rise in export capacity. In short, GAP is bringing civilization back to the Upper Mesopotamia.



First studies and plans to utilize waters of Euphrates and Tigris for irrigation and energy production and harness the flow of these rivers date back to the 60s. These studies and plans were referred to as the "Southeastern Anatolia Project" starting from 1977.

The GAP had originally started as an energy production and irrigation project seeking to utilize the rich land and water resources of the region. It was later converted into an integrated regional development project upon the completion of the GAP Master Plan in 1989. The Master Plan is an overall guide for the course that regional development will follow and for plans, programs and projects to be developed on more specific terms. The basic development scenario adopted by the Master Plan is to transform the region as a agriculture based industrial center.

At present, the GAP is a human centered and integrated regional development project carried out along with the principle of sustainable human development. The development envisaged under the GAP has the goal of creating opportunities for the people of the region fully materialize their preferences and economic potentials.

The mandate of conducting the GAP within the framework of integrated regional planning and ensuring the coordination of various activities was given to the GAP Regional Development Administration which was established in November 1989 under the Office of the Prime Ministry. The body authorized to take decisions in relation to the project is the GAP Higher Council composed of the State Minister in charge of GAP, State Minister in charge of the State Planning Organization (DPT), Minister of Public Works and Settlement and the Prime Minister as the head of the body. The GAP Administration has its head office in Ankara and it has also a Regional Directorate in Sanliurfa.



The GAP Master Plan which draws a frame for regional development laid down a schedule especially for the development of land and water resources by considering available financial and technical capacities. The Master Plan analyses the prospective developments in social and economic sectors induced by this change; projects population growth together with its distribution to urban and rural areas; determines at macro scale the needs for education and health services as well as demand for housing and urban infrastructure; and depicts annual funds needed for all these. As such, the GAP Master Plan serves as a guide facilitating the integration and coordination of development efforts waged by various governmental agencies. The document also guides plans, programs and projects to be developed for smaller scales.

The GAP Master Plan pinpoints four basic strategies for the time perspective extending to 2005 in order to reach targets which complement each other and thus form an integral whole:

The basic development scenario,

in the GAP Master Plan is to transform Southeastern Anatolia into an

"Export Centre Based upon Agriculture".



Sustainable development requires a balance between the nature and mankind; through this balance, it programmers for the life and development of both present and future generations without depleting natural resources. It is a concept which has social, ecological, economic, spatial and cultural dimensions.

As touched upon earlier, the Southeastern Anatolia Project had originally started as a land and water resources development effort and was later transformed into a multi-sectoral and integrated development project by the GAP Administration. The GAP Administration integrated the environmental and social-humanitarian dimensions to economic growth targets in conformity with the concept of sustainable development. This means that GAP accords as much importance to the enhancement of quality of life as it does to economic growth. Infrastructure development, agricultural and industrial development, environmental protection, development of natural resources, social services and all other activities including those which contribute to economic growth are assessed in terms of their sustainable contributions to the quality of life.

The ultimate aim of GAP is to ensure sustainable human development in the region. Therefore it is a human centred development process. Physical structures which are now being built will be the basis of human development. The aim of sustainable development will be achieved by eliminating disparities, spreading welfare, ensuring community participation and developing human resources. The combination of economic growth targets with a human development perspective envisages the transformation of the projected social change into participatory solutions specific to the eco-system and cultural make-up of the region.

The Earth Summit held in Rio in 1992 had adopted a document titled "Agenda 21". The Agenda includes some basic principles which are to be adapted to the specific circumstances of individual countries. In this respect, GAP's planning and implementation for sustainable human development fully confirm to these basic principles. This planning and implementation have the following basic principles:

  1. Participation
  2. Equity
  3. Development of Human Resources

Participation is conceived as the active presence of all stakeholders in the processes of project development, decision making, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. This principle is valid for all projects. When translated into actual processes, the principle yields ample benefits by raising awareness, enhancing the social feasibility of projects, reducing costs and by actually solving problems. One of its side effects is the democratisation of communities involved.

The second principle, equity or fairness in development means the integration of those who are in socially, culturally or economically disadvantaged positions to the process of development. As far as GAP is concerned, such disadvantaged groups are identified as women, children, landless peasants, small farmers and farmers living in areas not under irrigation. Special programmes are being developed with the participation of such groups.

In sum, GAP's aims include sustainable economic growth; fair income for all; better access to such services as education, health and cultural activities; sustainable utilisation of natural resources; a clean and safe environment; decent sheltering for all; and participation to decision making. All these mean the creation of sustainable society which progresses through its internal dynamics.

This sustainable human development approach has started to strike the attention of various international organisations and foreigners. For example, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) shows its engrossment by supporting the project.

UNDP and GAP co-sponsored the Symposium "Sustainable Development and GAP" which took place in March 1995. The event was participated by the representatives of universities and local and private organizations. The seminar was a platform on which the principles of sustainable human development were discussed in the context of GAP.

The seminar also formed the basis of the present "Sustainable Development Programme in GAP" which is being carried out jointly by the GAP Administration and UNDP since March 1997.

The programme supports the implementation of 29 sub-projects presented below under five headings:

Examples Of Projects Implemented Through The Approach Of Sustainable Human Development

The projects listed below are actually interrelated within the framework of sustainable human development. The list includes a grouping for analytical purposes.

1. Projects for Environmental Protection: The outputs of these projects can be taken under two main headings. (i) to create the conditions which allow future generations utilize natural resources; and (ii) to create healthy and safe living conditions for people.

2. Urban Planning and Infrastructure Projects: These projects are developed and materialized with the participation of people. Participation assures the social feasibility of projects and helps the promotion of a democratic culture in urban management and life. The projects aim at raising the quality of urban life.

3. Projects for the Elimination of Disadvantaged Positions and Poverty: These projects aim at gender balanced development; closing income gaps; better access to health, education and social services; and awareness building.

4. Human Resources Development and Institutional Arrangements: These projects enhance efficiency and income and also set the conditions of internal and external participation.






Area: Covering the provinces of Adiyaman, Batman, Diyarbakir, Gaziantep, Kilis, Mardin, Siirt, Sanliurfa and Sirnak, the GAP Region has an area extending over 75,358 square kilometres which corresponds to 9.7 % of the total area of the country.

Population: According to Census results (1997) the population of the region is 6,128,973 which corresponds to 9.7 % of the total population of the country (62,865,574). Urban-rural distribution of population is, respectively, 64 % and 36 %.

In the period 1990-1997, the rate of population growth was 2.5 % for the region whereas the country average was 1.5 %.

When we look at the issue in terms of urban and rural rates of population growth, the rate of urban population growth in the region is 4.6 %. This is quite high compared to the overall urban population growth rate which 2.9 %. Growth rate of rural population, on the other hand, is falling down both in the region and in the country. The corresponding values are -0.5 % and - 7 %, respectively, for the region and the country, showing that the slowing down in the rate of growth of rural population is faster in the country than it is in the region.

In the region, the share of urban population was 56 % in 1990, later to rise to 64 % in 1997. The share of rural population dropped from 44 % to 36 % in the same period.

This high rate of urban population growth in the GAP region put a further stress on already insufficient urban infrastructure services at the first hand. Furthermore, unless relevant measures are taken, the problems of employment will further aggravate.


When the project is completed, 28.5 % of the total water potential of the country will be brought under control through facilities on the Euphrates and the Tigris which together flow more than 52.94 billion cubit metres of water annually. It will be possible to irrigate 1.7 million hectares of land, 4.5 times larger than Cukurova, and produce 27 billion kWh energy at an installed capacity of 7460 MW annually. The planned irrigation area corresponds to 20 % of total irrigable land in Turkey, while annual energy production will have a share of 22 % of total energy production capacity of Turkey. Energy to be produced upon the completion of the energy production programme of GAP will be equal to Country's total hydraulic energy production in 1988.

The dams of Karakaya and Atatürk provide a substantial part of energy circulated in the interconnected system. Energy supply of these two dams reached 116 billion kWh as of the end of 1997. This corresponds to a value of 7.8 billion dollars and makes up about a half of the total hydraulic energy production of Turkey. GAP's share in total energy production (thermal and hydraulic) of the country is 20 %. The region's contribution to the economy of the country can be conceived better if it is considered that the total energy production of the region is equivalent to 28 million tons of fuel oil or 23 million cubic metres of natural gas.

When the irrigation projects of GAP are complete, the area brought under irrigation will be equal to the total area so far brought under irrigation by the State. High agricultural and industrial potential to be generated by GAP will increase the total economic output of the region 4.5 times and generate employment for 3.5 million people in a region whose population will then reach 9-10 million. Along with the expansion of area under irrigation, expected increases in crop yield is 104 % in wheat, 69 % in barley, 388 % in cotton, 556 % in tomato, 24 % in lentil, and 80 % in vegetables. At present, 203,080 hectares of land is irrigated in the region by networks constructed by the State Hydraulic Works and the region has a share of about 36 % in the total cotton output of Turkey.

Taking 1985, the year GAP Master Plan was phased in as a base, per capita Gross Regional Product (GRP) was 47 % of Turkey's per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The Master Plan projects an annual increase of 7.7 % in GRP. Projected annual increases in individual sectors are given below (at 1987 fixed producer prices).

Along with the change in the economic structure of the region, the share of agriculture will drop from 40 % to 23 % while that of industry will rise from 15 % to 24 %, and services from 44 % to 53 %. Per capita GRP will, at 1997 prices, approximately double and reach 235 million TL.




Taking 2005 as the target year, the Master Plan projected GRP with its components of

and the change with respect to 1985 was envisaged as follows:


1985 (%)

2005 (%)




Gross Regional Product (GRP)

GRP Index












Back to the Ataturk Dam

Regions Contact Us Special Events Reservations Index Visitor's Guide Search
Home | Ana Sayfa | All About Turkey | Turkiye hakkindaki Hersey | Turkish Road Map | Historical Places in Adiyaman  | Historical Places in Turkey | Mt.Nemrut | Slide Shows | Related Links | Guest Book | Disclaimer