Seventy per cent of the world is covered with water; of this, two per cent is made up of ice in glaciers and 97% is salt water in the oceans. So among all water resources available, only one per cent is potable water.

Freshwater plays a vital role in the continuation of life. Rivers, like the veins in our body, connect the web of life on the planet. Rivers have helped shape the evolution of life on Earth, as well as human cultures. Rivers that become disconnected, therefore, lose their function of maintaining and generating life.

Turkey has a very dense water network due to its geomorphological structure. The country consists of mountain ranges which allow the rivers to flow into as many as 30 separate basins. It is the only country of its size that has so many different river basins, fed by several alluvial rivers. In alluvial rivers, the bed and banks are made up of mobile sediment and/or soil. They are self-formed, meaning that their channels are shaped by the magnitude and frequency of the floods they experience, and the ability of these floods to erode, deposit, and transport sediment. Since mountainous slopes are steep, the carrying capacity of rivers is high.

Over the past century, tens of thousands of dams have been built on about two-thirds of the world’s rivers. Many of the great rivers such as the Indus, the Colorado, and the Yellow River no longer reach the ocean, turning once-productive deltas into biological deserts. All the rivers and freshwater ecosystems on the planet have lost 50% of their populations over the last 40 years. Turkey has not escaped this fate.

Dams are the biggest threat to Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) in Turkey; more than half are threatened by dams. The Turkish government of Turkey is planning to build a total of 1,738 dams and hydroelectric power plants by 2023, including the Ilisu Dam project which threatens five KBAs along the Tigris River and its tributaries in Mespotamia. The 11,000-year old town of Hasankeyf, which meets 9 out of 10 UNESCO World

Heritage criteria, will be forever buried under water.

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