New Internationalist

Another damned dam

September 2007

After a decade-long break from financing large dams, the World Bank began supporting a controversial new hydropower project in Laos two years ago. Billed as a ‘model’ project, the Nam Theun 2 Dam was designed to incorporate recommendations from the World Commission on Dams, which released a definitive report on the environmental, economic and social effects of large dams in 2000. But now, reports the Worldwatch Institute, both the project’s managers and advocates from the International Rivers Network (IRN) say Nam Theun 2 has fallen short of these goals.

The $1.25 billion project, backed by the Asian Development Bank as well as the World Bank, is halfway through its four-year development plan. Two-thirds of the 1,240 families that will be flooded out by the dam have been moved to a new village, but IRN has found that plans to provide for affected Laotians are unravelling. Implementation of a ‘Livelihood and Asset Restoration Pilot Programme’ has only been initiated in 21 villages – or less than 10 per cent of the downstream villages that will be affected when operations begin in 2009. ‘As a result, villagers are becoming guinea pigs in a vast and risky resettlement process,’ IRN’s study concludes.

IRN estimates that some 40 to 80 million people around the world have been displaced by dams, while millions more are affected by the loss of fisheries, decreased water quality and other downstream impacts. On a global scale, rotting vegetation in flooded reservoir areas may account for some four per cent of human-induced climate change.

New Internationalist Editorial

This column was published in the September 2007 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

Comments on Another damned dam

Leave your comment


  • Maximum characters allowed: 5000
  • Simple HTML allowed: bold, italic, and links

Registration is quick and easy. Plus you won’t have to re-type the blurry words to comment!
Register | Login

...And all is quiet.

Subscribe to Comments for this articleArticle Comment Feed RSS 2.0

Guidelines: Please be respectful of others when posting your reply.

Get our free fortnightly eNews


Videos from visionOntv’s globalviews channel.

Related articles

Recently in Currents

All Currents

Popular tags

All tags

This article was originally published in issue 404

New Internationalist Magazine issue 404
Issue 404

More articles from this issue

New Internationalist Magazine Issue 436

If you would like to know something about what's actually going on, rather than what people would like you to think was going on, then read the New Internationalist.

– Emma Thompson –

A subscription to suit you

Save money with a digital subscription. Give a gift subscription that will last all year. Or get yourself a free trial to New Internationalist. See our choice of offers.