Livelihood After the Dams: Experiences of Tributary Dams in the Mekong River
Over the past 20 years, Southeast Asia has seen the intensification of dam-building projects across and within nations. This chapter exams the construction of dams along Mekong tributaries and their impact on the livelihood of local communities. It focuses closely on the Pak Mun Dam case in northeastern Thailand to show how local communities have been left to bear the negative impacts of dam construction, and how these have affected both fisheries and local knowledge. This chapter argues that the Pak Mun Dam case can serve as a departure point to understand the socio-environmental changes that will arise with the construction of a new dam in the region, the Lower Sesan 2 Dam in Cambodia. Ultimately, this chapter shows what is at stake in the construction of both the dams in terms of impacts upon fish diversity, the loss of fisheries in the Mekong River, and human displacement.
KeywordMekong river Hydropower dams Northeast Thailand Cambodia Livelihood Pak Mun Dam Lower Sesan 2 Dam
At the field research, Dr. Kanokwan Manorom, Ubon Ratchathani University and Ms. Sompharn Khundee, Supporter of Assembly of the Poor helped me to conduct fieldwork in Thailand. Dr. Akihisa Iwata, Professor at the Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies (ASAFAS), Kyoto University, provided valuable advice for collecting data. 3S Rivers Protection Network (3SPN) helped me to interview villagers in Ratanakiri Province, Cambodia. Colleagues of the Mekong Watch provided invaluable support to continue working on this issue. This survey would not have been possible without those who kindly allowed me to interview them, and I thank them all. I also would like to express my appreciation to Ms. Wanida Thantiwithayaphitak. Her devotion to those villagers who have suffered from the Pak Mun Dam has inspired me to keep researching this issue. Field research was supported by the Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund and two ASAFAS programs, Initiatives for Attractive Education in Graduate Schools and the 21st Century COE program: Aiming for COE of Integrated Area Studies. At Ubon Ratchathani, The Mekong Sub-region Social Research Center (MSSRC) assisted to provide me with formal research status to conduct field surveys in Thailand.
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