A Dangerous Trajectory for the Mekong River

Update on the Status of Mekong Mainstream Dams

June 2017

Despite the significance of the Mekong River Basin to the people of mainland Southeast Asia, a dam-building boom is underway, threatening the basin’s vital ecosystems. A cascade of dams is planned for the Mekong mainstream, with many more dams proposed and under construction on its tributaries. Two dams are already under construction on the lower Mekong River mainstream - the Xayaburi and Don Sahong Dams. The Pak Beng Dam, the third project proposed for construction within the cascade, has recently completed a regional consultation process under the framework of the 1995 Mekong Agreement.

Dams on the Mekong River mainstream will block the major fish migrations that feed and provide income to millions of people, and threaten the ecological integrity of the entire river system. The impacts of dams planned and under construction on the lower stretch of the Mekong River are compounded by a cascade of dams on the upper Mekong River, or Lancang, as it is known in China.

This factsheet provides an update on the status of dams planned and under construction on the Mekong River mainstream.