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Urrá I Dam

The Urrá Dam (340MW) hydroelectric project with a reservoir of 7,400 hectares is located over the Sinú River in the Department oc Cordoba, Colombia. The project cost was US$800 million ($200 million more than estimated cost) and 40% of the financing came fro the Colombian government and 60% from international loans, including Canadian agency Export Development Corporation, Nordbanken from Sweden, and the Nordic Investment Bank. Swedish construction company Skanska, which received guarantees from EKA built the project in association with colombian company Conciviles. The environmental licence for construction was approved in 1993, construction began in 1994, filling up of the reservoir began in 1999 and operations began in 2000. The dam supplies 4% of the domestic energy demand estimated in 2002 in 14,398 MW.

The communities affected by Urrá I in the Sinú Higher Basin were the Embera–Katío indigenous peoples, and in the Lower Basin of the Sinú river the peasant and fishing communities, as web as the Zenu indigenous peoples. Other populations were also affected such as the peasants who lived in the area of the reservoir and nearby to the dam site, and the peasant populations which occupied the lands which were adjudicated to the Embera–Katíos after the negotiations with the company and the government. The Association of Fishing and Peasant Communities of the Great Wetlands of Lorica estimates that close to 70,000 people were directly impacted by Urrá I.

Construction of this dam is associated with the assassinations of many indigenous leaders and activists who opposed the project, and today communities are still being threatened.

Additional Information

Glenn Switkes, Latin America Campaigns Director

International Rivers Network


Phone: +55 11 3822 4157