The Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) is an integrated regional development project aiming to improve the level of income and life quality of local population by utilizing region’s resources, eliminating development disparities existing between the region and other parts of the country, contributing to national economic development and giving a brand to the country at international level.

The GAP is implemented as a multi-sector and integrated regional development project on the basis of sustainable human development targeting enhanced competitive power of the region and stronger economic and social integration. Given the time of its initiation, the project was developed through a visionary outlook with its innovative approaches as widely emphasized today. In coming years the GAP will be recorded as an historical success bringing together economic, social and environmental dimension of the concept of sustainability and also as a serious basis for other global efforts in the context of sustainable development

It was planned under the GAP Master Plan (1989) to construct 22 dams, 19 hydraulic power plants and irrigation networks. Upon the completion of GAP 1.8 million hectares of land will be brought under irrigation, and 27 billion kWh of hydraulic energy will be produced annually which will provide for a large part of country’s energy need. With investments in agriculture, industry, energy, transportation, education, health, rural and urban infrastructure it is aimed to bring economic and social indicators in the region up to country averages and lift up local people’s life quality and level of welfare.

After the GAP Master Plan, new approaches to economic and regional development were adopted worldwide with higher sensitivity to environmental issues along with the prominence of such concepts as human development, participation, equality, fairness, sustainability and gender balance. In 2002, the GAP Regional Development Plan was prepared so as to incorporate these new approaches and concepts which further increased the scope and cost of initiatives under the South-eastern Anatolia Project.

In 2008, all developments under the GAP were reviewed and by taking into account the targets of the Master Plan and Regional Development Plan the GAP Action Plan (GAP-AP) was prepared for the acceleration and completion of investments in basic infrastructure and social development including irrigation investments in the first place within the period of five years (2008-2012). The Action Plan prioritized, together with infrastructure investments, those projects and programmes that would contribute significantly to technological advance and socioeconomic development, and incorporated some new initiatives like attraction centres support programme and SODES (Social Support Programme).

The GAP Action Plan implemented in the period 2008-2012 marked a significant performance, yielding returns to efforts made, and concrete outcomes were achieved through planned, programmed and disciplined work. As to the second stage of the present GAP Action Plan covering the period 2014-2018, it is built upon the consolidated basis emerging during the first 5 years. Important elements in this new period include urbanization, culture tourism, organic farming, renewable energy, logistics, innovation and recreation, social and institutional development and, in particular, human resources.

About 83.1 billion TL (in 2018 prices) was allocated to GAP investments in the period 2003-2017 and 71.2 billion TL of this was channelled to investments marking a cash realization rate of 85.7%. The GAP region allocation for the year 2018 is about 5.5 billion TL (not definitive amount yet).

Investments realized in the GAP Region along with action plans accelerated economic and social development, increased region’s contribution to national economy, and improved its socioeconomic indicators.
  • Exports mark one of the most important indicators of economic leap on the part of developing countries. In this regard, the South-eastern Anatolia Region enjoyed a great progress increasing its exports of 3.3 billion dollars in 2007 to 8.6 billion dollars in 2017, an increase by 161%. The region’s share in countries total exports increased from 3.1% to 5.5%.
  • One of the most important objectives of economic policies is of course to reduce the rate of unemployment and boost employment. The rate of labour force participation in the region increased from 34% in 2007 to 43.7% in 2016. The increase in the rate of employment was from 28.3% in 2007 to 35.5% in 2016.  While the rate of increase in total number of employed persons was nationally 31% in the period 2008-2016, the increase in the region was by 67% in the same period.
  • In 2002, 155 investment incentive certificates were issued to mobilize investments in the region and employment of additional 8,753 persons was envisaged with fixed investment amounting to 872 million TL.  There has been significant progress in this regard with the new legislation on incentives taking effect in June 2012. Projections for 2012 and 2017 are as follows,  respectively: 778 investment incentive certificates, fixed investment of 5,249 million TL and employment of 23,088 persons, and 970 investment incentive certificates, fixed investment of 8,350 million TL and employment of 41,417 persons.
When development is defined as a resultant of social, cultural and political variables ensuring steady and several-fold increase in real national income, the human factor finds a place at the centre of this concept. The contribution to society of human capacity and attitudes depends mainly upon the quality of education offered.

With efforts in the field of education, significant improvements are observed in rates of school enrolment.

  • In primary education the number of students per class was 44 in the school year 2007-2008; it dropped to 30 in the school year 2016-2017.
  • In the school year 2008-2017, 28,918 new classrooms were introduced in preschool, primary and secondary education.
  • 6 new state universities were established bringing the number of universities in the region up to 9.  The fund allocated to these universities is about 2.7 billion lira.
  • Global times have witnessed some changes in fundamental activities of universities, attributing entrepreneurial functions to higher education institutions, specific missions in R&D activities, and prioritization of local needs in the context of social responsibility. Consequently three techno-parks were established and activated in Gaziantep, Dicle and Harran universities.
  • In the period 2008-2017 15 student dormitories were constructed with a capacity of 10,200 students. Further, the total capacity reached 25,967 in the period 2015-2017 with additional 15,767 students through leasing.

Infrastructure in health services was strengthened along with improved service quality.

  • In 2002, there were 63 hospitals and 8,223 beds in the region in 2002; in 2015, there figures were 128 and 17,492, respectively.
  • The number of inpatient beds per 10,000 people increased from 13 to 20.9.
  • The number of doctors serving in the region increased from 4,430 in 2002 to 10,946 in 2015.
  • While 52% of deliveries took place in health facilities in the GAP region in 2002, it climbed up to 96% in 2016.
  • Infant mortality rate which was 17.5 per thousand births in 2009 in the GAP region it dropped to 14.5 in 2016.

While education and health indicators in the region have improved, investments in such important areas as social protection and social services have had their positive reflections on social indicators.

  • Together with GAP Action Plan the Social Support Programme (SODES) was launched for the first time in GAP provinces.  Funds totalling to 444.4 million TL were provided to 3,412 project supported under the SODES.
  • The Attraction Centres Support Programme (CMDP) introduced first again with the Action Plan is in progress in Diyarbakır, Şanlıurfa and Gaziantep. The programme enjoyed funds totalling to 236 million TL by the end of 2016.
  • Gymnasia and swimming pools have been and are being constructed to support social development in the region and enable citizens from all segments of society to engage in sports activities. In the period 2008-2017, 26 gymnasia, 9 football fields 6 indoor swimming pools were completed and are now in service.
  • 61 social facilities were established in the period 2008-2017 to extend care and services for safe and healthy life to vulnerable groups including social protection and services, care of persons with disabilities and youth centres.
  • The number of Multi-purpose Community Centres under the GAP-RDA reached 45.

Physical planning and investments in urban infrastructure, water supply and housing have been given speed to provide orderly, healthy and safe settlements.

  • The housing project covered 82,643 dwellings in the period 2003-2017. 53,084 houses are ready and construction work is in progress in 29,559 houses.
  • The problem of drinking water supply was eliminated in all provinces of the region.

There was marked progress in irrigation, land consolidation and investments in basic infrastructure bringing along a sound basis for further leaps in development.

  • Under the GAP so far 19 dams have been completed 13 of which producing hydraulic energy.
  • The GAP region accounts for about 40% of total hydraulic energy production in Turkey. From the start of the operation of HPPs completed under the GAP up to the end of 2017 443.8 billion kWh electricity was produced, corresponding to monetary value of 26.63 billion USD (1kWh=6 cents). The rate of physical realization in GAP’s energy investments which is 74% at present will reach 90% upon the completion of Ilısu Dam (96% of which is already completed).
  • 1475.7 kilometres long main irrigation canals are ready for service. Of this total, 1242.2 kilometres were during the period of action plans (i.e. after 2008). Upon the completion of the construction of main canals project and construction work related to secondary irrigation networks have been speeded up.
  • At the end of 2002, the total area brought under irrigation was 198,854 hectares; in 2017 it reached 545,938 hectares. Given the Master Plan target of 1.8 million hectares, this means 30.3% of irrigation projects is now in operation. According to the Action Plan target of 1,060,000 hectares, on the other hand, the rate of realization in irrigation projects is 51.3%.
  • As one of the key components of GAP, the construction of Silvan Dam projected to irrigate 235,000 hectares of land started in 2013 and 57% of works have been completed. Pamukçay, Kuruçay and Başlar dams under the same project have been completed while the rate of realization in Ambar Dam is 95%.
  • Gaziantep Ardıl Dam and Irrigation Project is completed.
  • Dam construction work is continuing with rates of physical realization of 32% in Adıyaman Koçali, 52% in Çetintepe, 95% in Gaziantep Doğanpınar, 47% in Kilis Musabeyli, 89% in Diyarbakır Ergani and 64% in Kale.
  • Work on 2,430,000 hectares of land has been completed with land consolidation and on-farm development projects carried out simultaneously with irrigation projects. This is the largest once-off land consolidation work in the world. 2.5 billion TL was saved since there was no state compensation to land where main; substitute and other canals pass through.
Efforts were made to improve transportation infrastructure to upper limits to provide better marketing opportunities to the region, ensure safe and easy transportation and to make travel more comfortable; specific importance is attached to investments in transportation.

Transportation infrastructure in the region was improved and strengthened to better connect the region to other regions, provinces, ports and neighbouring countries.

  • Significant developments took place also in transportation infrastructure in connecting the region to other regions, provinces, ports and neighbouring countries. As of 2017 road network reached 6,518.8 km and network of dual carriageways to 2,342.3 km including 294 km long motorway. With 8 airports, now all provinces in the region have their air transportation.
  • For GAP to attain its objectives there is need to efficiently utilize the emerging potential in agriculture and agriculture-based industry for the sectors of industry and services and to support private sector investments. Industrial infrastructure was developed with the project and investment environments conducive to entrepreneurs were created. The number of organized industrial zones in the region increased to 17 and small industrial sites to 36. Against many odds in the region almost all industrial zones are now full occupied and there is work for new ones and expansion of existing zones.
  • In the period 2008-2017, 108 pieces of historical-cultural assets have been repaired and repair work is in process on 27 others.