Unresolved Issues on the Nam Theun 2 Hydropower Project in Lao PDR and the Hydropower Strategy of the Banks

Monday, December 6, 2010

34 civil society groups and individuals from 18 countries have written to the World Bank and Asian Development Bank this week calling on the Banks to take immediate action to ensure sustainable livelihoods for the affected communities. Some of the issues raised by the groups include:

  • People on the Nakai Plateau still have no means for a sustainable livelihood, threatening their food security, as poor quality land in the resettlement sites continues to cause problems for villagers’ agriculture, the long-term production of the reservoir fisheries is in doubt, and outsiders are encroaching on the villagers’ community forest areas;

  • Tens of thousands of people living downstream along the Xe Bang Fai River have already suffered impaired water quality and reduced fisheries, and funding is inadequate to restore their livelihoods;

  •  A key selling point of the original project was that it would fund protection of the globally significant Nakai-Nam Theun National Protected Area, yet the reservoir has opened up access to the area, exacerbating logging and poaching and threatening its ecological integrity; and

  • Even though the project was supposed to improve standards for hydropower development more generally in Laos, there is little evidence that this has happened. Projects continue to be approved without disclosing environmental impact assessments and without adequate resettlement and livelihood improvement plans.

The civil society letter concludes that “Until the World Bank and ADB can prove that a hydropower project of the size and scope of Nam Theun 2 can be successfully managed, we do not believe that there is any justification for scaling up of World Bank or ADB support for large dams.”

More information: