Media Kit on the Don Sahong Dam

Map of the Don Sahong Dam's Location
Map of the Don Sahong Dam's Location

The 260 MW Don Sahong Dam – the second dam to commence construction on the Mekong mainstream – spells disaster for Mekong fisheries. Located in the Siphandone (Khone Falls) area of southern Laos, less than two kilometers upstream of the Laos-Cambodia border, the dam will block the main channel passable year-round by fish migrating between Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, threatening vital subsistence and commercial fisheries in the Lower Mekong Basin.

In a letter of "prior notification" sent to the Mekong River Comission (MRC) in September 2013, Laos made clear its intent to build the Don Sahong Dam. On January 16, 2014 the MRC's Joint Committee – comprised of representatives from Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos – held a special meeting to discuss the Don Sahong Dam. At the meeting, while Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam raised concern over the dam's transboundary impacts and unproven mitigation measures and the need for the project to undergo Prior Consultation under the MRC’s Procedures for Notification, Prior Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA), Laos asserted that Notification was sufficient. Following sustained pressure from its neighbors, the Lao government agreed to resubmit the Don Sahong Dam project for Prior Consultation. However the official start date for this process, July 25, 2014, was not announced until early October, nearly three months into the six-month process.

On January 27, 2015, the Joint Committee of the MRC held a special meeting to discuss the Prior Consultation process for the Don Sahong Dam. In their formal reply forms, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam all called for an extension to the Prior Consultation process, highlighting the need for further baseline studies, greater assesment of the project's transboundary impacts and additional consultation. Laos however insisted that the Prior Consultation process was complete. As the four countries could not reach an agreement on how to proceed with the Don Sahong Dam, the decision was deferred to Ministerial level. On June 19, 2015, the MRC announced in a statement that, following further deliberations by the MRC Council,there were still differing views among the four countries on how to proceed, and the matter would be elevated to inter-government level, to be resolved through diplomatic channels. In early January 2016, the Government of Laos announced a ground-breaking ceremony to mark the start to construction of the coffer dam. Since then, construction has progressed at a rapid pace and as of June 2016, the Hou Sahong Channel is completely blocked. 

The dam is being developed by Malaysia's Mega-First Corporation Berhad with consulting services provided by Australia's SMEC New Zealand and the USA's AECOM. China’s Sinohydro International Corporation has been contracted to construct the project. 

This Don Sahong Dam “Media Kit” is intended to help journalists and researchers who seek more detailed information about the Don Sahong controversy. For more general background, please visit our Don Sahong webpage.

Background on the Don Sahong Dam:

Prior Consultation Process for the Don Sahong Dam:

Regional and International Concern Over the Don Sahong Dam:

News on the Don Sahong Dam:

What is at stake for the Mekong:


Map of the Don Sahong Dam: