Advertisement

Trade-Offs Between Hydropower Development and Food Security in River Management

  • Jamie PittockEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for a major reduction in poverty and better stewardship of the environment through action in 17 areas. In Southeast Asia, rapid expansion of water infrastructure is underway, with hydropower increasing energy supply to major urban areas and high dykes enabling increases in rice production. These have severe environmental impacts that governments have been prepared to accept. However, there has been little appreciation of the negative effects of this water infrastructure development on food security. Research in the Mekong River basin shows that hydropower and intensive rice development significantly diminish wild freshwater fisheries. In focusing on the supply of calories, governments have overlooked the importance of fish in supplying protein and other essential nutrients in the food supply, especially for the rural poor. Our projections for the lower Mekong nations suggest that diminished freshwater fisheries will have knock-on effects with shortfalls in proteins being replaced through deforestation for livestock or protein-rich crop production, resource-intensive aquaculture and imports of stock feeds and meats.

This chapter highlights the need for decision-makers in developing countries to better understand the synergies and negative trade-offs between sectoral policies (such as biodiversity, energy, food and health) when considering how to meet the SDGs. Myanmar has an opportunity to learn from the successes and mistakes made in managing the resources of the Mekong River basin as it decides how the resources of the Irrawaddy and Salween River basins will be managed in future.

Bibliography

  1. ADB, 2009. Agriculture and rural development sector in Cambodia, Manila, Asian Development BankGoogle Scholar
  2. ADB, 2015. GMS sector activities, Manila, Asian Development Bank. Available at: http://www.adb.org/countries/gms/sector-activities (accessed 26 November 2015).
  3. Bene, C. and Friend, R. M., 2011. Poverty in small-scale fisheries, Progress in Development Studies, 11(2): 119–144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. CPWF, 2013. Dams in the Mekong Basin: Commissioned, underconstruction and planned dams in May 2013., Vientiane, CGIAR Challenge Programme on Water and Food.Google Scholar
  5. Golden, M. H. N., 1991. The Nature of Nutritional Deficiency in Relation to Growth Failure and Poverty, Acta Pædiatrica, 80: 95–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hortle, K. G., 2007. Consumption and the yield of fish and other aquatic animals from the Lower Mekong Basin, Vientiane, Lao PDR, Mekong River Commission.Google Scholar
  7. ICEM, 2010. MRC Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of hydropower on the Mekong mainstream: Final report, Hanoi, International Center for Environmental Management.Google Scholar
  8. IFC and ICEM, 2017. SEA of the Hydropower Sector in Myanmar. Baseline Assessment Report. Draft May 2017, Hanoi, International Finance Corporation and International Centre for Environmental Management.Google Scholar
  9. IHA, 2010. Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocol, Sutton, International Hydropower Association.Google Scholar
  10. Kawarazuka, N. and Bene, C., 2010. Linking small-scale fisheries and aquaculture to household nutritional security: an overview, Food Security, 2(4): 343–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. King, P., Bird, J. and Haas, L., 2007. Asian Development Bank; Mekong River Commission; WWF, Vientiane.Google Scholar
  12. Lee, D. E. H., 2014. Children’s protein consumption in Southeast Asia: Consideration of quality as well as quantity of children’s protein consumption in Southeast Asia, Pennsylvania, Wharton School.Google Scholar
  13. MRC, 2010. Basin-wide rapid sustainability assessment tool, Vientiane, Mekong River Commission.Google Scholar
  14. MRC, 2011. 1995 Mekong Agreement and Procedures, Vientiane, Mekong River Commission. Available at: http://www.mrcmekong.org/assets/Publications/policies/MRC-1995-Agreement-n-procedures.pdf (accessed 18 November 2015).
  15. Nguyen, K. v., Dumaresq, D. and Howie, C., 2016. Dike compartments in the Mekong delta: Case studies in water governance, farming systems and water regime changes in An Giang Province, Vietnam, In Water governance dynamics in the Mekong region, Blake, D. H. and Robins, L, eds, Strategic Information and Research Development Centre, Petaling Jaya.Google Scholar
  16. Nguyen, K. V. and Pittock, J., 2016. Floating rice in Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar, Canberra, The Australian National University.Google Scholar
  17. Nguyen, V. K. and Connell, D., 2015. “Impacts on dikes and rice intensification in the Mekong Delta,” Greater Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. At https://wle-mekong.cgiar.org/2015forum/ Accessed 1 August 2017.
  18. Orr, S., Pittock, J., Chapagain, A. and Dumaresq, D., 2012. Dams on the Mekong River: Lost fish protein and the implications for land and water resources, Global Environmental Change, 22(4): 925–932.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Phonvisay, S., 2013. An introduction to the fisheries of Lao PDR, Vientiane, Mekong River Commission.Google Scholar
  20. Pinstrup-Andersen, P., 2009. Food security: definition and measurement, Food Security, 1(1): 5–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Pittock, J., Dumaresq, D. and Bassi, A., 2016. Modeling the Hydropower – Food Nexus in Large River Basins: A Mekong Case Study, Water, 8(10): 425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Pittock, J., Dumaresq, D. and Orr, S., 2017. The Mekong River: trading off hydropower, fish, and food, Regional Environmental Change: 1–11.Google Scholar
  23. Postel, S. and Richter, B., 2003. Rivers for life: managing water for people and nature, Island Press, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  24. Raitzer, D., Wong, L. C. and Samson, J. N., 2015. Myanmar’s Agriculture Sector: Unlocking the Potential for Inclusive Growth, Asian Development Bank, Manila.Google Scholar
  25. Richter, B. D., Postel, S., Revenga, C., Scudder, T., Lehner, B., Churchill, A. and Chow, M., 2010. Lost in development’s shadow: The downstream human consequences of dams, Water Alternatives, 3(2): 14–42.Google Scholar
  26. Smajgl, A. and Ward, J., 2013. The water-food-energy nexus in the Mekong region: Assessing development strategies considering cross-sectoral and transboundary impacts, Springer Science & Business Media.Google Scholar
  27. Thilsted, S. H., 2012. Improved management, increased culture and consumption of small fish species can improve diets of the rural poor, Dhaka, The WorldFish Center Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).Google Scholar
  28. UNICEF, WHO and WBG, 2017. Global Database on Child Growth and Malnutrition, Geneva, UNICEF, WHO and The World Bank Group. Available at: http://www.who.int/nutgrowthdb/estimates2016/en/ (accessed 9 July 2017).
  29. Van Nguyen, N. and Ferrero, A., 2006. Meeting the challenges of global rice production, Paddy and Water Environment, 4(1): 1–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. WCD, 2000. Dams and development: a new framework for decision-making. The report of the World Commission on Dams, Earthscan, London.Google Scholar
  31. Welch, R. M. and Graham, R. D., 2000. A new paradigm for world agriculture: productive, sustainable, nutritious, healthful food systems, Food & Nutrition Bulletin, 21(4): 361–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Xu, H., 2017. ‘Should China limit hydropower development on Lancang River with the push of new policy?’, Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University, Canberra.Google Scholar
  33. Young, V. R. and Pellett, P. L., 1990. Current concepts concerning indispensable amino acid needs in adults and their implications for international nutrition planning, Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 12(4): 289–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fenner School of Environment and SocietyAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

Personalised recommendations