Nam Theun 2 Hydropower Project: Field Report, February 2018

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Nam Theun 2 Hydropower Project (NT2) is a dam constructed in central Laos’ Khammouane Province to acquire foreign currency by exporting electricity to Thailand. The World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) decided to support the NT2 project in 2005, and operations began in 2010. Approximately 6,200 people, most of them ethnic minorities and indigenous people, were forced to relocate to make way for the project reservoir. Many other environmental and social impacts have occurred as a result of the project, including negative impacts on livelihoods due to increasing floods and unnatural changes in water levels downstream of the dam that affect riverbank farming and fishing, and destruction of habitats that support rare and endangered species.

This field report shares the key findings of a visit by Mekong Watch and International Rivers to the villages affected by the Nam Theun 2 dam in February 2018. We visited and conducted interviews with 18 households/groups in 8 villages relocated from the reservoir area on the Nakai Plateau (Thalang, Nakai Neua, Sop Phene, Sop Hia, Sop Ma, Nakai Tai, Nong Boua Sathid, Sop On villages), and one village in the downstream area on the Xe Bang Fai River (Ban Boua Khai village, Xaybouri, Savannakhet).

During our field research, we identified a number of ongoing and unresolved issues for resettled communities and those downstream. These include: delays in additional land allocations and land titling; land degradation due to cash crop cultivation; lack of sufficient grazing land; decrease in fish catch and income that raise questions over the sustainability of reservoir fisheries; lack of information transparency and support around the closure of the Resettlement Implementation Period (RIP); and the need for ongoing financial support for off-farm livelihoods development. Downstream in the Xe Bang Fai, we found persistent and unresolved issues of riverbank erosion and resulting loss and damage to property without compensation. 

Media contacts: 

Maureen Harris, Southeast Asia Program Director,
International Rivers, 

Toshiyuki Doi, Senior Advisor, 
Mekong Watch,