Country Listing

Cyprus Table of Contents


Water Resources

Despite government support of agriculture, the future of Turkish Cypriot farming was threatened by an insufficient supply of water. Rainfall, long inadequate, in the 1980s was more meager than usual. In addition to the problem of scarcity was the difficulty of providing an adequate supply of water throughout the year because of the high costs of containment and distribution. Extremely irregular river flow necessitated large storage capacities, the terrain required unusually high dams, and high erosion rates in the watersheds required extra storage space to allow for siltation of reservoirs. Cost factors deterred significant construction by the British administration until the 1950s, when a modest program was initiated. After independence was gained in 1960, construction of dams and supply systems accelerated. In the 1980s, the Republic of Cyprus undertook extensive water development projects. These Greek Cypriot projects sometimes had unfavorable effects on Turkish Cypriots, because many of the projects trapped water in the Troodos Mountains, where most of the island's rainfall and snow fell, and prevented the flow of water downstream into the "TRNC."

Turkish Cypriots sought to alleviate their water shortage by building dams and a series of irrigation networks. In 1989 a dam was completed at Geçitköy, at the western end of the Kyrenia Range, and seven more dams were under construction, with another dozen or so in the planning stage. As of the late 1980s, however, only about 5 percent of agricultural land was irrigable throughout the growing season. In 1976 Turkish Cypriots initiated a massive reforestation project in the Kyrenia Range in the hope of attracting more rainfall into this region. The success of all of these projects depended ultimately, however, on the level of rainfall, which declined during much of the 1980s.

Data as of January 1991