Mekong Eye

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Mekong River researchers hope to find ways to make dams less damaging

Backed by NASA, researchers from Michigan State University will spend three years analyzing sites in the lower Mekong River basin in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

The Xayaburi dam in Loas, as seen from above in early 2017 (Thien Y, The Mekong Eye)

By Michael Taylo

Kuala Lumpur, March 18, 2018

Reuters

Researchers backed by multi-million dollar grants from NASA are heading to Southeast Asia’s Mekong River region to find ways to improve dams so they are less harmful to people and the environment.

Researchers from Michigan State University (MSU) will spend three years analyzing sites in the lower Mekong River basin in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

The project will be funded by two grants from the United States space agency, NASA, totaling $3 million, and the researchers hope their findings will improve dams around the world.

“The most egregious affects of dam building are displacement and relocation,” said Daniel Kramer, a professor of fisheries and wildlife at MSU.

“But the research that we’re doing is also suggesting that there are a lot of less obvious things that the effects of dams bring on local people and ecosystems,” Kramer told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The environmental impact of dams may drastically change the economies and social structures of communities, Kramer added.

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