Dams are an important source of storing water and producing clean electricity. This article will discuss the twelve big dams that changed the world’s landscape. These twelve big dams resulted in massive migrations and natural disasters. Most of these twelve big dams constructed in the 20th century, however, few were built in the 21st century as well.

12-Glines Canyon – The Dam That came Down:

Gline Canyon Dam – Photo via flickr.com

Dams have serious environmental impacts, and their benefits dwindle as they age. Since the 1930s, the United States has removed more than 1150 dams to restore the river ecosystem and particularly fish habitats. In 2014, the 64 meters high Glines Canyon Dam on the Elwha river the in the Pacific Northwest what breached in the world’s biggest dam removal so far.

11-Inga 3 – Africa’s next White Elephant:

A view of a Hydropower project – photo via wikipedia.org


With the Inga 3 project on the Congo river, world Bank returned to building Mega-dams in 2014. Even though the bank has failed to complete much smaller projects on the Congo, Inga 3 is only the first phase of the world biggest hydropower scheme. The project will have limited local impacts, will bypass poor consumers and benefit mining companies instead.

10- Merowe – When China Went Global:

Photo credit Unsplash.com

In 2003 e, the Chinese government decided to fund the Merowe Dam in Sudan as its first big Overseas hydropower project. The dam displaced more than 50000 people. Chinese banks and companies are by now involved in some 330 dams 74 countries, leading an unprecedented global Dam building boom.

9- Three Gorges – Mao’s Dream Came True:

Three Gorges Dam- Photo via pixabay.com

China’s Three Gorges dam is the world largest hydropower project, and was completed in 2008. It generates as much power as eight large nuclear power plants. It displaced more than 1.2 million people and ravaged the ecosystem of the Yangtze River.

8-Sardar Sarovar – The Dam that Defeated The World Bank :

Sardar Sarovar Dam – photo credit Pixabay.com

The Sardar Sarovar dam on India’s Narmada river has displaced more than 250000 mainly indigenous people. The World Bank had to withdraw from the project in 1994 after an independent review found Systematic violations of its social and environmental policies. After the humiliating experience, the bank stayed out of Mega Dams for more than a decade.

7- Nagymarose – The Dam That Started People Power in Eastern Europe:

Nagymarose dam – photo credit wikimedia.org

In 1988 as many as 40000 Hungarians protested against the proposed Nagymaros dam on the Danube in the first open defiance of a communist government in decades. The following year, the project was stopped and people power took root throughout Eastern Europe.

6- Yacyreta – The Monument To Corruption:

Large dams are often pet projects of dictators. Lacking accountability leads to massive corruption and cost overruns. The cost of Argentina’s Yacyreta dam has mushroomed from 2.5 billion dollars to 15 billion dollars. A former President called Yacyreta “a monument to corruption.”

5- Banqiao- The Dam That Washed Away:

Concrete bridge near Dam – Photo via Unsplash.com

In the world biggest dam disaster, failure of China’s Banqiao dam killed an estimated 171000 people in 1975. Strong evidence suggests that China’s Sichuan earthquake, which killed 80000 people in 2008, may have been triggered by the Zipingpu Dam.

4-Chixoy- The Grave on The Rio Negro:

Day Time view of Concrete Dam – photo via unsplash.com

In 1982, more than 400 indigenous people were massacred to make way for the world banks Chixoy dam in Guatemala. In a historic breakthrough, the country’s government in 2014 signed a $154m reparation agreement with the affected communities.

3- Bhakra Dam – The Temple Of Modern India:

Bhakra dam – Photo credit wikpedia.org

In the 1960s the Bhakra Dam became the symbol of India’s Green Revolution and was hailed by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru as a temple of modern India. Yet in India and beyond, badly managed irrigation schemes have resulted in waterlogged, saline soils and diminishing harvests. Nehru soon came to deplore the disease of giganticism in dam building.

2-Kariba Dam – The Dam That Ended Poverty In Southern Africa (Or did it?):

Kariba dam view – photo via unsplash.com

The Kariba dam on the Zambezi was built in the 1950s to power the Zambia’s copper belt, the first large Dam funded by the World Bank. Kariba was considered the symbol of a Brave New World, in which controlling nature would bring quick economic development. Yet the 57000 people who were displaced by the dam suffered famine and are still impoverished.

1- Hoover Dam – The Dam That Gave us Las Vegas:

Hoover Dam – Photo via pixabay.com

The Hoover Dam was the world highest and most powerful Dam when it was completed in 1936. It spurred the agricultural and industrial development of the United States southwest and destroyed the Colorado river’s rich downstream fisheries. Climate change is greatly affecting the dam’s capacity to supply water and generate power.