Human Ecology

, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 411–422 | Cite as

Gender-Differentiated Impacts of the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Dam on Downstream Fishers in the Brazilian Amazon

  • Laura Castro-Diaz
  • Maria Claudia Lopez
  • Emilio Moran


The Belo Monte Hydroelectric dam on the Xingu River in the Brazilian Amazon will be the third largest dam in the world in power generating capacity (11 GW). Its construction has brought negative socioeconomic and environmental impacts for local fishers that far outweigh the benefits. We used a qualitative case study approach to explore perceptions among fishers in a community downstream from the dam of the impact of Belo Monte on their livelihoods and their fisheries. We found that fishers, who, although they were not displaced were neither consulted nor compensated, have been severely impacted by the dam, and that fishermen and fisherwomen are differentially affected. More attention needs to be given to downstream communities and the impacts they experience.


Hydroelectric dams Socio-ecological impacts Downstream communities Gender Amazon fishers Xingu River Brazil 



We are thankful for the guidance Dr. Kimberly Chung provided throughout different stages of this research. We also wish to thank Prof. Miqueias Calvi for his assistance during the research, especially during the fieldwork. Many thanks to Natalia Ocampo who helped with the coding book validation. We greatly appreciate comments from Rebecca Minardi on an early version of this manuscript. Camila Farias provided invaluable help as a research assistant in the field and transcribing the interviews. Nan Li helped us developing the maps. We wish to thank the members of Vila Nova for their warm reception and their openness to sharing their experiences during fieldwork. We stand in awe of their courage under difficult circumstances.

More importantly, the opinions expressed in this paper belong solely to the authors, and should not be attributed to any of the above, or to the funding sources.


We acknowledge the support of the following funding sources that made the research possible: FAPESP in Brazil (processo 2012/51465-0); Michigan State University’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Department of Community Sustainability, the Graduate School and the Dr. William W and Evelyn Taylor Endowed Fellowship. We also thank NSF through grant 1639115. Dr. Lopez is grateful for the funding received from the Academy of Global Engagement and the ESPP WaterCube initiative.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

This study was deemed exempt, category 2 research by the Internal Review Board on Human Subjects (IRB No. IRB# ×16-729e) at Michigan State University. Informed consent was used to ensure voluntary participation and confidentiality.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Department of Community SustainabilityMichigan State UniversityEast LansingyUSA
  2. 2.The Center for Global Change and Earth Observations at Michigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA
  3. 3.The Department of Geography, Environment and Spatial SciencesMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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