Power Surge: The Impacts of Rapid Dam Development in Laos

International Rivers
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
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Laos has declared it a national priority to catalyze the country's development through the rapid construction of large dams that export high-risk hydropower to neighboring Thailand and Vietnam. With six big dams already in operation, seven currently under construction, at least 12 more in the works and development deals pending on another 35, Laos is in the midst of an unprecedented dam-building boom.

A new report from International Rivers, Power Surge, chronicles the social and environmental debt created by this boom. Power Surge's 11 in-depth case studies reveal that Lao villagers are being sold down the river in hydro deals that take their fertile farmland and river fisheries, leaving them without critical sources of food and income.

Power Surge appeals to the Lao government and donor agencies to:

  • explore economic alternatives to hydropower;
  • designate the Mekong mainstream off-limits to dam development;
  • impose a moratorium on new hydro projects until basin-wide plans are in place;
  • enforce Laos' environmental laws; and
  • for dams that proceed, share hydro benefits through life-of-project payments and service provision to all affected people, up and downstream.

Download the full report in English (6.24 MB)

Download the full report in Lao (3.58 MB)

More information: 

Presentation by International Rivers' Carl Middleton at the Mekong River Commission's Hydropower Consultation, 25/26 September, Vientiane, Laos

Read a statement from Thai and Cambodian civil society organizations on the MRC Hydropower Consultation

International Rivers' Laos webpage