As a resource-rich country with strong military power in North Africa, Algeria has faced serious problems of damaging nature and environment in the course of its fast industrialization.
Corresponding to growing concern over the environmental pollution inevitably caused by industrialization and economic development, the Ministry of Environment of Korea concluded in 2009 a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Algerian Environment Ministry (now the Ministry of Water Resource and Environment) for technology exchange for research and improvement of environment in Algeria, based on favorable reputation of Korean companies built through their years-long proactive business activities in that country.
As its first project, DMEC, a leading engineering company in Korea, restored ecosystems in downstream section of El Harrach River (a distance of 18 kilometers in Alger State) that flows from Blida State to the Mediterranean Sea crossing Alger State.
Before the restoration project, unique natural values of El Harrach River were damaged and quality of its water was also seriously exacerbated due to inflow of sewage and abandonment of domestic wastes, though El Harrach River is the major stream in the capital city of Algeria with the largest population. And frequent flood caused by heavy rain during rainy season and narrow river width repeatedly inundated densely populated residence areas along the river.
Based on the MOU signed with the Korean government, the then Ministry of Environment of Algeria pushed forward the El Harrach River Restoration Project as its first program of improving environment in an effort to restore ecosystems in the river and prevent damages of flood.
The Korean Ministry of Environment subsidized its affiliated research organization, Korea Environmental Industry & Technology Institute (KEITI), to draw up a master plan for the Project, and then KEITI selected the premier water resource engineering consortium led by DMEC to entrust research work for the Project.
Executive Director Han Sang-un for water resource division at DMEC who participated in the field research recalled the past, “Taking account of the fact that extent of pollution and flooding water levels of the River were serious and it flows to the Mediterranean Sea through Alger State, we inevitably had to restore the River as soon as possible adopting the fast track method that implements design and construction simultaneously.”
Based on its experience of successfully completing the Cheonggyecheon Stream Restoration Project in Seoul in 2005, DMEC worked out the master plan of the Project in Algeria by February 2012, containing the plan of eco-friendly restoration of El Harrach River, reflecting development plan of the connected Baie d’Alger, and constructing rest and leisure spaces as well as ecological stream spaces by making the most of characteristics of an urban river.
The master plan proposed to the Algerian Ministry of Environment included the plan of restoring a part of the river in distance of 18 kilometers, supplying maintenance water of 90,000 cubic meters a day, building 13 pedestrian bridges, 4 water purifying pools, one high shooting fountain (up to 100 meters), and a marina facility (accommodating 100 boats).
As the Algerian government accepted the master plan proposed by the DMEC-led consortium, the consortium launched the project in June 2012 in a package of design and construction work. As of October 2015, the project is progressed by 40% with completion of a part of facilities (swimming pool).Being the virtually first public and private collaboration program between the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria and Republic of Korea, this project is a significant example of successful economic cooperation between the two countries, which leads to the second and third El Harrach projects.