© 2019

Large Dams

Long Term Impacts on Riverine Communities and Free Flowing Rivers

  • Reflects the current global interest in large dams, including the long-term analysis of their negative impacts

  • Based on pioneering and unique research highlighting how large dams provided for river basin development

  • Discusses concerns about the magnitude of the socio-economic and environmental costs of large dams


Part of the Water Resources Development and Management book series (WRDM)

About this book


This book highlights the first comparative long-term analysis of the negative impacts of large dams on riverine communities and on free-flowing rivers in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Following the Foreword by Professor Asit K. Biswas, the first section covers the 1956–1973 period, when the author believed that large dams provided an exceptional opportunity for integrated river basin development. In turn, the second section (1976–1997) reflects the author’s increasing concerns about the magnitude of the socio-economic and environmental costs of large dams, while the third (1998–2018) discusses why large dams are in fact not cost-effective in the long term.


Dam resettlement Kariba dam Gwembe Tonga basin Zambezi river Aswan high dam Kainji Lake basin Kafue river Mahaweli project Sardar Sarovar Project River basin development African Savanna environments Senegal river Narmada river development Okavango delta Onchocerciasis control programme Okavango integrated water project

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Division of the Humanities and Social SciencesCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA

About the authors

Prof. Thayer Scudder is an Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the California Institute of Technology, USA. He is a leading World authority on dams and is the former Commissioner of the World Commission on Dams. His research interests are in the area of socioeconomic impacts of large dams, regional development, and community-based natural resource management.

Bibliographic information

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“I enjoyed reading this book. It is well-written and intellectually stimulating. As an emerging scholar in large dams, I found this book very useful, particularly as it engages in a timeline of 60 years. It promises to be a good guide to my own planned long-term studies of large dams in Southern Africa.” (Joshua Matanzima, Water International, August 24, 2020)