2019 Water Management

Sultan Marshes Wetland

Natural balance and hydrologic cycle at Sultan Marshes were destroyed due to the construction of dams, wells and drainage channels due to basin-wide irrigated farming support policies that started in Develi Basin in 1973. From the beginning of 2000s, the water quantity of the Sultan Marshes decreased dangerously because of the water-guzzling-products farming, agricultural irrigation, illegal well drilling, losses due to the existing irrigation techniques and less water flow to the marshlands due to the dams; as from 2003 marshlands have almost dried out. The effects on local people were unequal: while landowners adopted agricultural irrigation, loan use, base price, market support systems that were prioritized for the last 25 years, landless farmers who make their own living through reed and sedge cutting and animal husbandry on open pastures have lost their sources of income. Decrease in the amount and quality of reeds and poor quality animal production due to the dried pastures put these groups living at risk. On the other hand the loss of biodiversity and the drop in the bird species richness (for which the region was known) reached a serious level. In order to find a solution to the socio-economic problems in Sultan Marshes, a GEF (Global Environmental Facility) project aimed to protect natural resources was started under the leadership of Ministry of Environment in 2000. The objective of the project was to put a model which is based on protection and management of natural resources such as water, marshlands, pastures into practice with the participation of land users and solve the environmental, social and economic problems of Sultan Marshes. However, because of persisting irrigated farming applications, the project has not improved the current situation, and existing socio-economic conflicts were sharpened. In 2011, Zamanti Tunnel was opened and water was given to the Sultan Marshes through a neighbouring basin. Although this looks like a short term solution, the main purpose of opening Zamanti Tunnel is agricultural irrigation and problems such as illegal well drillings, common crop expansion and irrigation systems in the basin, farmers reluctance to use different production methods that reduce water use, governments unwillingness to take more radical steps on the subject show that this temporal improvement will be short-lived.

Source: Ejatlas