Mekong Eye

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Harnessing the Sesan River: An In-depth look at the Lower Sesan 2 Dam

A comprehensive investigation into the myriad of social, economic and environmental challenges facing communities along one of the Mekong’s most biologically and socially vibrant tributaries due to the Cambodian government’s determination to erect a major hydroelectric dam.

By Thai PBS

Stung Treng, Cambodia, June 1, 2016

The Cambodian Government is constructing a 75 meter-high dam on the Sesan River in Stung Treng Province. The Lower Sesan 2 Dam will cause the inundation of 30,000ha of valuable agricultural and forest land force the resettlement of approximately 5,000 people, mostly Kavet and Khmer communities. Conflicts over their resettlement and loss of livelihoods is ongoing.

While the dam’s powerplant is designed to generate 400 MW of electricity, the potential impact on the biodiversity of two of the Mekong River’s most significant tributaries raises questions about the tradeoffs. In 2012, The National Academy of Sciences found that the Lower Sesan 2 Dam would cause a 9.3 percent drop in fish stocks basin-wide, while threatening more than fifty fish species. These impacts would be felt as far downstream as the Mekong Delta.

With the project now 40 percent complete, journalists from Thailand’s Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS), undertook an in-depth investigation into what’s happening on the ground, and how communities are responding.

Part 1: The choice between fish or electricity

Part 2: Voices from another village facing evacuation to make way for a dam

Part 3: Living a new life in resettlement areas

Part 4: A new hope for Cambodia’s development

Part 5: Cambodia and its goal for electricity self-sufficiency

Part 6: Dam and fish in Samse river basin

Watch Thai PBS’s companion, six-part video coverage:

Thai PBS Sesan Video Screen Shot

This series was produced in collaboration with The Mekong Eye and Mekong Matters Journalism Network, with full editorial control to the journalist and their outlet.

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