From the governance lens: The development of the largest dam in Western Europe

Alqueva Dam, in the Alentejo Region in Portugal

and its artificial lake, has 250 square kilometres making it the largest dam in Wester Europe.

It was completed in 2002, after many years of project development, political tensions and a period of drought in Portugal. Its reservoir reached the full level, for the first time, in 2010.

To understand how this enormous project was built the lens of the governance were used. That is to say looking at ‘the practices of coordination and decision making between different actors around contested water distributions’ (Zwarteveen, 2015).

Such practices are interrelated with politics and culture, the future dreamt for water as well as the alignment (or not) of different people to make water a reality in every region.

With such lens, a Multiple Streams Framework and Punctuated equilibrium theory were used to determine and analyse why the largest dam in Western Europe was built in the region in that particular moment.

Do you want to know the whole story?

So, the story involves a revolution, the European Union and the current head of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres.

Tune in the podcast for details


«The idea of building a dam in the area started in the 1950s with an irrigation perspective, however, the project evolved until becoming the largest dam in Europe, for electricity generation and domestic supply»