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Nenskra hydropower plant, Georgia

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Key facts

The Nenskra project foresees damming the Nenskra river 10 kilometers upstream from the village of Chuberi. To increase the reservoir’s volume, a 14 km long tunnel will divert water from the Nakra river on the other side of the mountain close to the village of Nakra.

Cost: USD 1 billion (doubled since initial estimates)

Size: 280 MW power plant, 135 m high dam and a storage reservoir

75% of finance planned to come from public sources:

    ADB, EBRD and SACE (credit insurance, IT)
    > each consider a USD 161 million loan
    > considers an additional 5% equity share (USD 15 million)
    AIIB, EIB and KDB (Korean Development Bank)
    > each consider a USD 86 million loan
    (Source: A presentation at the booth of Korea Water Resources at the AIIB annual meeting.)

Project promoters: Korea Water Resources Corporation & JSC Partnership Fund (a Georgian government agency)

Contract type: Public-private partnership: BOT (Build, Operate, Transfer)

Contractor: Salini Impregilo (IT) (preparatory works began in September 2015)

Customer: Like many other newly built hydropower plants in Georgia, Nenskra will produce winter season electricity for the domestic market and export the rest to energy-hungry Turkey.


  • 34 new hydropower plants are planned in Upper Svanetia, an area roughly half the size of Cyprus. more >>

  • The Nenskra reservoir will deprive locals of the pastures and forests they use to earn their income. more >>

  • The project's Environmental and Social Impact Assessment did not properly assess socio-economic impacts on local communities nor the geological hazards. more >>


Hydro congestion in Svaneti

In the last decade, Georgia has rushed to exploit its hydropower resources to become a regional energy player. But weak laws and lack of strategy have made the sector a breeding ground for environmental damage, social problems and political cronyism.

Map: Hydro plans in Upper Svaneti

Interactive map of planned hydropower installations in Upper Svaneti

Explore the map

The Upper Svaneti region in north-western Georgia provides a microcosm of these broader trends.

Plans for development of 35 new plants are under way in an area roughly the size of Mallorca that is largely covered by a planned national park, hosts UNESCO listed medieval monuments and is inhabited by the traditional community of Svans.

The impact of such intensive hydropower plant constructions on the rivers and biodiversity in Upper Svaneti has not been assessed.

Of all the projects, Nenskra is the most advanced.


>> Read more:
Hydropower development in Georgia - Projects, risks, legal context

Find out more


Local population & land use issues

Mother and daughter during mass in Chuberi.

300 families live in Chuberi and 80 families in the village of Nakra. The majority are Svan, an ethnic subgroup of Georgia’s Caucasus mountains with their own language, laws and traditions. For generations, they have lived in isolation and self-dependence in Upper Svaneti. Their livelihoods depend on forestry, grazing and subsistence agriculture.

Photo story

The community of Chuberi will lose part of its land should the Nenskra dam be built.

Read the photo story

The reservoir will flood communal lands and would reduce families incomes, contributing to poverty and marginalisation, especially for women who are less likely to receive job opporunities during the construction.

At least two families live in fear of being resettled.

Even though the use of land is a highly contested issue, the agreement over the project, which may contain relevant information, has not been made public.


Parallels to the Khudoni dam downstream

The people of Chuberi know the experience of the Svan communities living downstream in Khaishi where the 702 MW Khudoni dam is planned to be built. The Georgian state sold their ancestral lands for next to nothing to the Khudoni dam promoter. The lands and the dam remains a subject of fierce protests to date.


>> Read more:
Khudoni hydropower plant, Georgia - Project background, images, more

See the project page


Poor impact assessments, lack of participation

[From a] nature preservation point of view, not all of these larger [rivers] like Enguri and smaller rivers like Nenskra and Nakra should be used for hydropower generation.

Prof. Dr. Frank Schrader, International Consultant on Hydropower, in his review of the Nenskra ESIA

From the onset, the project has been poorly communicated to the affected communities who have few opportunities to be heard. People’s knowledge about the dam is scarce and the information provided by the developers focuses on benefits while neglecting negative impacts.

A review (pdf) of the Nenskra Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) prepared by a German consultant indicates that the ESIA report fails to sufficiently define the area of influence, suggest project alternatives, assess the impacts on the local communities and the geological hazards, and evaluate the costs and benefits of the project for the Georgian society.

The Georgian Ministry of Environment approved the project even though the review questioned the project from a nature conservation perspective.

>> Read more:
Briefing on the Nenskra hydropower plant (pdf)
Briefing | February 2, 2016

Comments on the Environmental Impact Assessment for the Nenskra hydropower plant (pdf)
Comments | September 30, 2015

Preliminary comments on the Nenskra Environmental Impact Assessment with a particular focus on the consultation process (pdf)
Comments | June 25, 2015


Cumulative impacts

Nenskra is one of several dams planned in the Enguri river basin, upstream of the state-owned 1300 MW Enguri hydropower plant. The water accumulation at Nenskra will inevitably reduce water levels downstream, and lessen the economic utility of the Enguri dam and the planned Khudoni dam.

Together with the planned Nenskra and Khudoni dams, the state-operated Enguri hydropower plant (pictured above) is the third water storage facility in the Enguri watershed. All combined would put cumulative burden on the river's ecosystems and the local Svan population.

More importantly, the Georgian government has not tried to assess the cumulative impacts of all the planned hydro installations on the Enguri watershed and the Upper Svaneti region.

Besides the dams and derivation tunnels, the necessary constructions include bypass and access roads, high voltage transmission lines and substations. These may lead to substantial increase in landslides and thus sedimentation in the already exposed Enguri dam.


Seismic risks and land slides

Svanetia is a geologically sensitive mountainous area prone to landslides and mudflows. The situation is critical in the area of the planned Nenskra reservoir and around the village of Nakra.

Nakra has a history of mudflows that washed out the local cemetery and agricultural fields. Locals who have for long called for a protection system fear that the planned works on the Nakra river could cause flooding of their village.

A mudflow on the Lekvederi river damaged one of the two Svan hamlets to be affected by the Nenskra dam.

Latest developments


Blog entry | September 20, 2017

As the Georgian government moves ahead with its plans for increasing the country’s hydropower capacity, local communities are being sidelined in the process of compensation payments.

Blog entry | September 11, 2017

An assessment of livelihoods of people to be affected by the Nenskra hydropower plant in Georgia contains mistakes that will lead to significant losses for locals.

Blog entry | August 30, 2017

Despite the remote location, the culture festival We Are Svaneti brought together people from three continents and helped young Svans to become aware of their communities’ unique traditions.

Blog entry | June 19, 2017

The disproportionate impacts that the Nenskra hydropower project in Georgia will have on women are not being assessed by the project company, in spite of its financiers’ standards.

Blog entry | May 4, 2017

Today the Asian Development Bank started its annual meeting and one of the projects that we will be discussing with the bank’s management and Board of Directors is a loan for the 280 megawatt Nenskra hydropower plant in the Svaneti region of Georgia. The ADB is planning to provide a loan of USD 176.70 million and a Political Risk Guarantee over USD 100.00 million for Nenskra, with a total cost of the project of USD 930 million.


Study | September 11, 2017

A field investigation conducted by CEE Bankwatch Network in the Nenskra and Nakra valleys in Upper Svaneti in Georgia during two visits in July 2017 has found evidence that the Land Acquisition and Livelihood Restoration Plan (LALRP) developed by the project company JSC Nenkra Hydro is inaccurate and fails to properly map, assess and provide adequate compensation for people affected by the project, especially for those that are significantly and severely affected by the planned Nenskra hydropower plant.

Briefing | May 5, 2017

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is in the process of assessing a loan for the 280 megawatt Nenskra hydropower plant in Georgia. In March supplementary environmental and social impact assessments (ESIA) were released in order to bring the project in line with the standards of the prospective international financiers. Yet the new ESIA is ‘too little, too late’ for a project that is underlined by no strategic

Study | October 31, 2016

Based on the analysis of the project documentation, independent media reports, surveys and discussions with local civil society revealed that the Nenskra project represents the perfect example of a gender blind project, where the project sponsor fails to identify the negative social and gender impacts on the community, to protect women from disproportionately bearing the negative impacts and to ensure that women and men benefit equally from the project.

Briefing | May 11, 2016

Protests have in recent weeks broken out across rural Georgia after construction resumed on several large hydropower projects financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Demonstrators have complained that the projects were repeatedly decided behind closed doors, and that poor assessments of the social and environmental consequences mean their livelihoods are under threat.