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Georgia — Inspection of the Enguri Dam

Key Objectives:

To provide assistance with the inspection of the Inguri Dam in Georgia and to identify priority areas for remedial work.

Completed in 1996

The inspection of the Enguri Dam in the Republic of Georgia is a concrete example of the Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership’s (GSEP) collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The GSEP’s first fact-finding mission to Georgia took place in October 1994. During this mission, the GSEP team met with the Prime Minister and the Vice-Prime Minister of Georgia, as well as the presidents and other representatives from Sakenergo (the Georgian utility) and ENECO (the international energy centre, a branch of the Shevardnadze foundation).

As a result of this mission, the project team and their Georgian counterparts identified several potential avenues of support. Of these, two were prioritised and hence resulted in the following two concrete projects: the inspection of the Enguri Dam (the tallest vault dam in the world, which was experiencing structural problems) and the organisation of a seminar on legislation and institutional issues.

As a result of concerns raised by Georgian authorities in 1994 with respect to the 272-metre-high Enguri Dam’s possible lack of safety, a team of member company experts spent one week inspecting the tallest vault dam in the world and its powerhouse with their Georgian counterparts. The safety concerns were confirmed. In the years following the collapse of the USSR, a lack of maintenance of the dam resulted in a potentially dangerous situation.

During this mission, the GSEP team met with the President of Georgia, Mr. Eduard Shevardnadze, to ensure that the dam’s safety be made a national priority.

The team’s report was circulated to various funding organizations such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank, as well as disaster relief organizations like the Humanitarian Affairs Department of the UN and the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO). In addition, the GSEP hosted an international institutions meeting in May 1995, which was attended by the World Bank, the EBRD, and the European Commission. The meeting was held to discuss each organization’s actions in Georgia in order to identify possible collaboration and to develop a game plan to secure funding for the remedial work on the dam.

As a result of these efforts, funding for the partial immediate remedial work on the dam was secured. In August 1995, the GSEP participated in an EBRD mission that was devoted to the preparation of immediate actions. During this mission, a consultant hired by the Swiss government confirmed the conclusions that the dam’s maintenance had been neglected and was in dire need of repair. The Swiss government proceeded with the first stage of remedial work and further repairs were financed by the European Union.

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