International Day of Action for Rivers 2014

Tomorrow, March 14th, is the International Day of Action for Rivers (and Against Dams)!

Hosted by International Rivers, this day focuses on efforts to protect rivers from destructive river projects, including dams. This international organization works in five continents with locals affected by dams and river projects:

Today, almost everywhere that a big dam is being planned or built there is organized local opposition. In communities where existing dams have created severe problems, dam-affected people are demanding reparations. (History and Accomplishments)

You may be wondering how building dams affects the environment, people, and economics. According to the website, environmental problems include slowing/stopping of fish migration, due to the disruption of river flow. Also, the creation of a stagnant pool of water upstream of the dam is a problem because it causes chemical and ecological changes in the water that affect plant life and the ecosystem by detrimentally changing it.

In terms of humans, building dams, especially in developing countries, affects their housing because the large network of canals, irrigation systems and reservoirs often need to go in place of houses. Also, the creation of a dam ruins the existing water system, which may be a source of food, water, transportation and other activities (like washing clothes) for the people downstream. Lastly, the economic impacts include large construction costs and an increasingly longer amount of time to build, affecting the community negatively.

Photo from IR’s trip to the Nam Ou River in Laos, a country in South East Asia. According to Wikipedia, this river is very important for transportation in Laos, and would be ruined with a dam.

In celebration of the day, groups all over the world promote action and education through events on March 14th. Check out the map of events from 2013! On the website, you can register your 2014 event online, download materials for your event, and tell your own personal river story.

As always, you can also follow their progress online. For the Facebook event this year, click here. To follow them on Twitter, click here. You can also see photos of their past and current projects on their Flickr photostream.

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