The Laos government’s response to July’s deadly dam collapse was not enough. Socheata Sim, programme manager for Oxfam’s Mekong Regional Water Governance Program, explains why.
An abundance of cheap power from China could stall Laos’ plans to become the “battery of Southeast Asia.”
They emphasised the importance of management of the Mekong River to ensure balance between economic growth and environmental protection.
Myth-busting on the Mekong’s hydropower dams
Southeast Asia’s infrastructure boom threatens to destroy the few remaining wilderness sanctuaries in the region.
20 million Vietnamese watch the dramatic change in the flow of water and sediment levels threatening their fish stocks and aquaculture. Clearly, China’s upstream dams are contributing to the ecological threats in the delta.
The smiles that once brightened faces in Luangtong, a small community in Laos’ northwest Oudomxay province, have disappeared. These days the residents appear defeated, stunned by the knowledge that before long the land that has sustained them for generations will be submerged under the waters behind Pak Beng Dam.
At a time when much of Cambodia is developing at a breakneck speed, where smartphones and BMWs have become almost as ubiquitous on the streets of Phnom Penh as saffron-robed monks, the village of Kbal Romeas inhabits a world apart. Tucked deep into the jungles of the country’s untamed northeast, the village has no convenience stores, streetlights, or paved roads. Instead, a visitor would be more likely to find a stretched snakeskin nailed to a piece of teak, drying in the midday sun as a testament to the animist beliefs of the people who live there.
Plan to make river accessible to barges ‘will seriously hurt Thailand and Laos. Economic experts have warned that the Mekong-Lancang River navigation-channel improvement project will only benefit China – while having serious negative impacts on Thailand and Laos.
Even though, Thailand has announced that the diversion of the Mekong’s water will only take place in the rainy season but in fact it is also being carried out during the dry one that lasts from February to May of each year. This plan has been going on “quietly” and continuously without any public announcement to inform the world communities or the countries downstream.