Tag Archive for 'Mekong river'

Mekong Dams Put Cambodian Food Security At Risk

Photo retrieved from: www.internationalrivers.org

“Cambodia’s per capita consumption of inland fish is among the highest in the world and its people depend on fish for nearly three-quarters of their protein intake. But information released by the Cambodian Fisheries Administration (FiA) may be a game-changer for the future of the Mekong River.

A report financed by the Danish development agency Danida, Oxfam and WWF shows how the combined effects of mainstream dams in Cambodia and population growth could reduce the country’s consumption of fish from 49kg to as little as 22kg per person per year by 2030 that is an astounding 55% reduction. The report makes clear that dams are a matter of national security rather than simply an environmental concern.Cambodia’s per capita consumption of inland fish is among the highest in the world and its people depend on fish for nearly three-quarters of their protein intake. But information released by the Cambodian Fisheries Administration (FiA) may be a game-changer for the future of the Mekong River.

Bad news about the impacts of dams on food security and health in the Mekong region is not new: several reports have documented how dams result in reduced fish yields by fragmenting and changing the hydrology of critical habitat.

But the Cambodian FiA report is different. First, it used a nationwide survey of food consumption in Cambodia the first of its kind designed by the National Institute for Statistics. The survey sampled 1,200 households to estimate fish consumption and the role of fish in people’s diets.”

Read more: International Rivers


Dams Threaten Mekong Basin Food Supply

Photo retrieved from: www.ipsnews.net

“The future of food security in the Mekong region lies at a crossroads, as several development ventures, including the Xayaburi Hydropower Project, threaten to alter fish migration routes, disrupt the flow of sediments and nutrients downstream, and endanger millions whose livelihoods depend on the Mekong River basin’s resources.

Running through China, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Laos, Thailand and Cambodia to the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, this is Asia’s seventh longest transboundary river.

An estimated 60 million people live within the lush river basin, and nearly 80 percent depend on the Lower Mekong’s waters and intricate network of tributaries as a major source of food.

But if all goes according to plan, 88 dams will obstruct the river’s natural course by 2030. Seven have already been completed in the Upper Mekong basin in China, with an estimated twenty more either planned or underway in the northwest Qinghai province, the southwestern region of Yunnan and Tibet.

Construction of the 3.5-billion-dollar Xayaburi Dam on the Lower Mekong in northern Laos is the first of eleven planned dam projects on the main stem of the Mekong River, with nine allocated for Laos and two in Cambodia.

Construction began in 2010 and as of last month the project was 10 percent complete.

At best these development projects will alter the traditional patterns of life here; at worst, they will devastate ecosystems that have thrived for centuries.

Over 850 freshwater fish species call the Mekong home, and several times a year this rich water channel is transformed into a major migration route, with one third of the species travelling over 1,000 kilometres to feed and breed, making the Mekong River basin one of the world’s most productive inland fisheries.”

Read more: IPS


River be damned

Photo retrieved from: www.theage.com/au

“As the narrow longtail boat glides downstream from the dusty hamlet of Nong Kiew towards the golden temples of Luang Prabang, mirror images of jungle, vertical limestone cliffs and impossibly steep mountains shimmer in the waters of the Nam Ou River, a tributary of the mighty Mekong.

Endangered Asian elephants and Indochinese tigers still roam the upper reaches of the river within Phou Den Din National Protected Area, one of 20 national parks in Laos. This is the beauty that tourists, many Australians among them, come so far to see.

Yet this undeveloped region in northern Laos is about to be jolted into the industrial age. Three hours downriver from Nong Kiew, a scar of ochre-coloured dirt and rock stretches for kilometres: construction of the Nam Ou 2 Dam is steamrolling ahead.

The 450 kilometre-long Nam Ou, one of the few Lao rivers traversable by boat for its entire length, will soon be severed seven times over by a 350-kilometre stretch of hydropower dams built and maintained by Chinese giant Sinohydro.

The Nam Ou 2 belongs to the first phase of the $1.95 billion project, which is expected to be operational by 2018. Details surrounding the project are scant. Even the final destination for the proposed 1146 megawatts of hydropower is unclear, although the Lao government claims the first three dams, Nam Ou 2, 5 and 6, will provide electricity for domestic consumption.”

Read more: The Age World


Battle for the Mekong takes new turn

Photo retrieved from: www.savethemekong.org

“Laos reached an agreement with downstream countries Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand more than a year ago to suspend construction of the US$3.5-billion (Bt113 billion) dam while independent studies were made on fish migration patterns and the possible threat posed by the dam to food security.

About 60 million people depend on the Mekong River for their livelihoods through a hand-to-mouth existence.

However, Vientiane ignored what amounted to a moratorium, Thai construction companies went to work immediately in November at the site and plans for further dams were released.

At last week’s meeting of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) in Luang Prabang, Cambodia demanded that all construction be immediately halted and argued that Laos had misinterpreted previous agreements. Meanwhile, Vietnam insisted that no dams be constructed until an agreed upon independent study is completed.

Thai general contracting and infrastructure development group Ch Karnchang – through its 50 per-cent-owned subsidiary Xayaburi Power Co – has a 29-year concession to operate the dam’s 1,285-megawatt power plant, as well as assurances from Thailand that it will purchase about 95 per cent of the electricity generated.”

Read more: Save the Mekong


Questions Over China Dams

Retrieved from: www.phnompenhpost.com

“Some questions remain about whether hydro dams on the upper Mekong River in China exacerbated conditions during Cambodia’s devastating drought of 2010, environmental groups say, as China’s dam program powers ahead.

When the first power-generating unit was switched on last month at China’s giant 262-metre tall Nuozhadu hydroelectric dam, which will be largest on the river when completed in 2014, state-run newspaper the China Daily sang its praises as a dam that would significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Extensive research, the China Daily added, also showed potential impacts of the Nuozhadu and others dams on countries downstream – including Cambodia, where fishing communities along the Mekong fear Laos’s proposed Xayaburi dam – would be minimal.

Research showed “water flow in the river’s China section accounted for only 13.5 per cent of the river’s total, making the country’s hydropower development have little impact downstream”, it said.”

Read more: The Phnom Penh Post

Vietnam warns of water conflicts

Photo retrieved from: www.africanwater.org

“Tensions over water resources are threatening economic growth in many countries and presenting a source of conflict especially given the efforts of all countries to step up economic development.

“Dam construction and stream adjustment by some countries in upstream rivers represents a concern for many countries and an implicit factor affecting relations between relevant countries.”

“The exploitation of the Mekong River — the world’s 12th longest river, has loomed as an increasingly divisive issue among nations through which it flows — Myanmar, Laos,Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and its source country China.

More than 60 million people rely in some way on the river, a vital transport waterway and the world’s largest inland fishery with an annual estimated catch of 3.9 million tonnes, according to the Mekong River Commission.”

Read more: The Phuket News


Regions where water disputes are fuelling tensions

Photo retrieved from: www.globalvoicesonline.org

“Disputes over water are common around the world, exacerbated by climate change, growing populations, rapid urbanisation, increased irrigation and a rising demand for alternative energy sources such as hydroelectricity.

Following are a few of the regions where competition for water from major rivers systems is fuelling tension.


India is home to three major river systems — the Ganges, Brahmaputra and the Indus — which support 700 million people. As an upstream nation, it controls water flows to Bangladesh to the east and Pakistan to the west. The Indus supplies some 80 percent of Pakistan’s irrigated land.

India and Pakistan are both building hydropower dams in disputed Kashmir along Kishanganga river. Pakistan fears India’s dams will disrupt water flows.

India, for its part, is concerned that China is building dams along the Tsangpo river, which runs into India as the Brahmaputra.”

Read more: Reuters


Damming the future? Livelihoods at stake on Mekong River

Photo retrieved from: www.earthtimes.org

“NONGKHAI PROVINCE, Thailand and XAYABURI PROVINCE, Laos — Although his family has lived for generations beside the Mekong River, Itthapon Kamsuk thinks he might soon have to move.

During the dry season, from March to May, Kamsuk’s village in Nongkhai province in northeastern Thailand routinely runs short of water, and big fish are growing scarcer.

“The water level is already unpredictable, because of the dams in China,” the 45-year-old said. “Before dam construction, we lived peacefully. We could have fish all the time.”

Now, another hydroelectric dam is being built on the Mekong in a deal between the Lao government and a Thai construction company, despite an international agreement to protect water rights along the river and promises by Thai and Lao leaders to pause the project for further study.

The 1,260-megawatt Xayaburi is the first of 11 proposed mainstream dams that will affect agriculture, fishing and cultural heritage from its location about 100 miles upstream from Kamsuk’s village in northeast Thailand, through Cambodia to the Mekong River delta in Vietnam — the fertile heart of the world’s second largest rice exporter.”

Read more: Alaska Dispatch


Laos Announces “Postponement” of Xayaburi Dam But Vows to Continue Construction and Resettlement Activities

Photo retrieved from: www.mannagum.org

“On Friday, Laos’ Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith announced that the Xayaburi Dam had been postponed, pending completion of further environmental studies. While initially promising news, today’s Vientiane Times confirms that the Lao government nevertheless intends to allow Ch. Karnchang, the dam’s builder, to continue scheduled activities at the dam site, including the resettlement of affected villages. To date, the Mekong River Commission member countries have not yet decided whether to proceed with the project, in accordance with the 1995 Mekong Agreement.

“Laos’ promise to suspend the Xayaburi Dam is welcomed,” said Kirk Herbertson, Southeast Asia Policy Coordinator for International Rivers. “However, Laos has been saying for months that it has agreed to suspend the dam, while at the same time allowing Ch. Karnchang to continue to move forward with construction activities on everything but the dam itself. Actions speak louder than words. We expect the Lao government to order Ch. Karnchang to immediately stop all construction-related activities at the Xayaburi site and cancel plans to resettle more villages until a regional agreement has been reached.”

Although the Xayaburi Dam site is located in Laos, postponing the project depends on the willingness of the Government of Thailand, as well as Laos. Thai construction giant Ch. Karnchang is building the project, Thai banks including state-owned Krung Thai bank are financing the project, and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) has already signed a power purchase agreement that binds the project to a specific timeline.”

Read more: International Rivers


Laos’ work on the Mekong river draws criticism

Photo retrieved from: www.internationalrivers.org

“In a dusty gorge deep in landlocked Laos, work is underway on a project that could change South-East Asia forever.

Despite the protests of countries downstream and the warnings of scientists, a construction company has begun building the first dam across the lower reaches of one of the world’s great rivers.

Officially the Lao government says it has not decided whether to go ahead with damming the Mekong at Xayaburi – but all the evidence suggests otherwise.”

Read more: International Rivers