International Day of Action against Dams and for Rivers, Water and Life

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istock_000006508876large resizedThe International Day of Action for Rivers (formerly titled as International Day of Action against Dams and for Rivers, Water and Life) is celebrated on the 14th of March each year. This movement got its inspiration from the participants of the First International Meeting of People Affected by Dams held in March 1997 in Brazil. Representatives from twenty countries including Brazil, Argentina, Thailand, Russia, France, Switzerland, and the United States attended the meeting and decided that the International Day of Action for Rivers would fall on the same date on which Brazil celebrates the Day of Action Against Large Dams.


The goal was to build and strengthen regional and international networks within the international anti-dam movement.  The first preparatory meeting of People Affected by Dam was held in September 1995 in Brazil and an international organizing committee was formed headed by MAB. The other participants included International Rivers Network (IRN), India's Save the Narmada Movement (NBA), Chile's Biobío Action Group (GABB), and European Rivers Network (ERN). The first meeting was a success and it paved the way for the next step. The next step was coming up with a movement ‘The International Day of Action against Dams: For Rivers, Water, and Life’ that further strengthened the international movement.


The main aim was to raise the voices against destructive water development projects, reclaim the health of our rivers and watersheds, and demand the equitable and sustainable management of our waterways. The solar energy and wind power projects were also called into question. The environmental studies and environmental assessments have shown that building dams is a major source of environmental pollution. By acting together, it demonstrated that these issues were not merely local, but global in scope.

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1980’s saw the emergence of a movement against current dam-building practices. Thousands of environmentalists, human rights and social activists from all parts of the world joined hands. The earliest successful anti-dam campaigns were led by conservationists trying to preserve wilderness areas. According to them, it posed a serious threat to the environment. Since the 1970s, people directly affected have gained the power to stop dams, mostly because they have built alliances with environmentalists, human rights and democracy activists, fishers and recreationists.


To many people, large dams have instead become symbols of the destruction of the natural world. Although hundreds of large dams are still under construction and many more are on the engineers' drawing boards, aid funds and other public sector sources of financing are drying up, and public protests have forced the governments to re-think their strategies. A lot of top engineering universities offer courses that educate people regarding the anti-dam movement and its effects on wind power and solar power industries. While the others argue that dams give rise to hydro energy. Some of the top alternative energy companies also put forward their case and all this healthy debate is because of the day celebrated on the 14th March each year. The international dam industry appears to be entering a recession from which it may never escape.


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