The GAP is implemented in the Southeastern Anatolia Region which covers 9 provinces (Adıyaman, Batman, Diyarbakır, Gaziantep, Kilis, Mardin, Siirt, Sanlıurfa and Sırnak). In terms of both population size and surface area the region corresponds approximately to 10% of the country.
At the inception stage the GAP was launched as a programme for developing land and water resources existing in the region, envisaging the construction of 22 dams and 19 hydro-power plants (HPP) for irrigation and energy accompanied by other investments for irrigation.
Afterwards, with the Master Plan dated 1989 and revision introduced in 2002, the GAP was transformed into an integrated regional development project on the basis of multi-sector sustainable human development encompassing investments in agriculture, industry, transportation, education, health and rural and urban infrastructure building.
One of the most ambitious projects in the world, the GAP is all-encompassing and therefore costly. The financing need of public investments required only for reaching the targets and magnitudes set by the GAP Master Plan is 41.2 billion YTL in 2008 prices. Total spending as of the end of 2007 is 25.6 billion YTL, corresponding to a cash realization of 62.2%.
As far as irrigation investments under the GAP are concerned, priority was given to water reservoirs (dams). Thus far 15 dams were completed and a water holding capacity sufficient for irrigating 1 million hectares of land was created. As of 2008, 272,972 hectares of land in the basin of the Euphrates and Tigris in the GAP region were brought under irrigation. This means that only 15% of all envisaged irrigation investments could be realized so far.
Crop diversification and development of agro-based industry, which is the basic component of regional development is dependent upon the realization of irrigation investments. Thus, it is of critical importance to give priority to irrigation infrastructure and complete it as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, the GAP region is still wrestling out some important problems including the following: Unemployment, insufficiency of qualified labour force, insufficient education infrastructure, lower levels of education, insufficiency of health infrastructure and services, bottlenecks in access to drinking and use water, insufficiency of industrial and energy infrastructure and low level of regional capital accumulation. These problems are further aggravated particularly in the face of demographic trends.
For supporting economic development and rapid expansion in employment, it is compulsory to attract private sector investments to the region. In making investment environments attractive, it is particularly important to improve transportation, energy, industrial and urban infrastructure services, to facilitate the access of firms to financing sources, to build incentive mechanisms in line with the production features of the region, to make services by other agencies in the region more effective and to improve social life.
As stated in the 9 Development Plan, activities under the Southeastern Anatolia Project are in progress. Beyond an infrastructure project consisting only of energy and irrigation investment, the GAP is now addressed as an integrated regional development programme mobilizing local initiatives also by making use of the joint cooperation platform of prospective development agencies. In this context, application of modern irrigation techniques, completion of transportation and housing infrastructure, transition to competitive product types, expansion of marketing policies, development of human resources and institutional capacity and taking advantage of natural and cultural fabric are among new policies geared to support economic and social development so as to make the region more competitive in many respects.