Lake Van basin is drying up

Global warming and drought have caused the water level to drop in Lake Van. Many large and small lakes, streams, dams and spring waters in the Lake Van basin have dried up.

The Lake Van basin around which hundreds of thousands of people live is in jeopardy due to drought. The decrease in the water level in Lake Van and the complete drying of some lakes around it have changed the habitats of many species especially flamingos.

Thousands of flamingos and other bird species no longer frequent the Lake Van basin. The complete drying up of Akgöl Lake in Özalp district and Salt Lake in Saray district, Çelebibağı and Gölağzı wetlands in Erciş district, which is one of the most important feeding grounds for birds and many lakes in Yarımada and Akçıra villages in Adilcevaz district, have affected the living spaces of species. Birds that come to these areas every year have started to go to other areas.


The only source of oxygen in the Lake Van basin, which is very poor in terms of vegetation, is reed beds.

The drying up of the lake surroundings, stream mouths and wetlands caused the reed beds in these areas to dry up. Drying out or complete disappearing of the reeds also destroys the oxygen source of the region.


Van Environment and Historical Artifacts Protection Association (Van Çev-Der) head Ali Kalçık said that the recession of Lake Van and the drought in the region were caused by global warming and wrong policies.

Kalçık said that if global warming exceeds 1.5˚C, a disaster will be inevitable for the world. “The harbinger of these disasters was the melting glaciers for years. We are now nearing the end and the world is heading towards a great disaster.”

Kalçık noted that many lakes, dams and streams in the Lake Van basin have dried up or are about to dry up. “The Zîlan region, which has been known for its nature and abundant water, has never dried up this much. Like Zilan, many other regions have suffered from it. The reed beds, which are the oxygen source of the region, also dried up due to the recession of water or drying up. Another reason is the policies of the municipalities around the basin. The construction of roads by the municipalities on the shores of Lake Van and the filling of the shores caused the reeds to disappear. If such policies continue, there will be greater disasters.”


Ayhan Minaz who lives in Adilcevaz said that they witnessed the worst drought in their village on the shore of Lake Van.

Minaz stated that the water of Lake Van has recessed a lot and the lake of thousands of years has completely dried up in the village. “The lake in our village was home to thousands of birds and species every season. This lake, which is thousands of years old, unfortunately dried up this year. If it continues like this, both our village and other villages will be left without water,” he added.