Monday, February 10, 2020

OrientDams.Visualizing the impact of dams on heritage in the Near East

OrientDams.Visualizing the impact of dams on heritage in the Near East
Dams of the Near East between development and depauperation
Dams represent a controversial and contested tool for economic development. It is widely agreed that these massive hydraulic structures provide different types of benefits, including the production of electricity, increased farmlands and land value as well as development for fishery and water-related industry. In addition to their maintenance costs, the construction and up-filling of dams entails however the dislocation of thousands of people, potential political international issues when built on rivers flowing through different countries, the permanent degradation of soil fertility and the widespread destruction of cultural and natural heritage.
Despite the growing concerns on short, medium and long-term benefit/cost of dams, today Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries are witnessing an ever-growing number of large dam projects. Activities and projects aiming at documenting and protecting the cultural heritage are generally missing or only partially included within dams projects masterplans.
There is an urgent need for strategies for documenting and protecting archaeological sites and monuments in the planning of hydraulic infrastructures at international, national and local levels as well as outlining a general working protocol. Funders of development works, foremost the World Bank, should review their current policies, which offer insufficient protection to cultural heritage.

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