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Dams threaten world’s freshwater supplies says new report

On the International Day of Action for Rivers and Against Dams, the Blue Planet Project has released a new report that sheds light on ongoing threats to people and the environment posed by dams. The report titled “Dam Truths: A compilation of case studies about popular struggles against dams” highlights resistance to dams in Mexico, Canada, Southern Africa and India. It argues that dams remain one of the biggest threats to freshwater resources in the world today.

“Dams in Southern Africa are expressions of the region’s history: the apartheid regime and colonial governments built dams with little or no concern about the people displaced or their environmental impacts,” says Mary Galvin, Blue Planet Project organizer living in Durban.

The Canadian case studies also highlight the links between colonialism and dams. “Indigenous communities in Canada have been disproportionately affected by the harmful social and environmental impacts of dams on rivers and watersheds that have sustained their traditional ways of life for millennia,” says Ottawa-based water campaigner, Meera Karunananthan.

The Mexican case emphasizes the corruption, lack of transparency and social unrest that have been part of the dam-building process in the Latin American country. “Temacapulín, like many other towns that have struggled to stop a dam project, has managed to win some legal battles, but in a place like Mexico, winning a court battle is not enough," writes Mexico City based organizer, Claudia Campero Arena. “Unfortunately, the money for a project like this ($1 billion USD is the estimated investment for the El Zapotillo Dam), and the political interests at play, make it very difficult to stop.”

The report also shows that in contrast, the Indian anti-dam movement has managed to halt key dam developments through the power of popular resistance.

“India’s anti-dam and people's movements are strong and are committed to making dams a part of history rather than a part of India’s future,” concludes Madhuresh Kumar, Blue Planet Project organizer in Delhi.

The report can be downloaded here (2MB PDF).

It will also be shared at the upcoming World Social Forum taking place March 26-30 in Tunisia.

The reports authors are available for comment.