Starving the Mekong: A Report on the Impacts of Cambodia’s Lower Sesan 2 Dam

Kimberley Ogonda
Monday, February 2, 2015

The Lower Sesan 2 Dam in Northeastern Cambodia is arguably one of the most controversial hydropower projects being constructed on tributary of the Lower Mekong River Basin.  The project is located near the confluence of the Sesan and Srepok rivers, 25 kilometers from the Mekong itself, and is expected to significantly affect the Mekong’s fisheries and sediment flows, impacting on food and nutritional security, livelihoods and the wider economy for hundreds of thousands of people in the basin.  In order to understand the magnitude of anticipated environmental and social impacts this dam poses and the nature of its decision-making process, International Rivers has published the report Starving the Mekong: Expected Social and Environmental Impacts from Construction and Operation of the Lower Sesan 2 Dam.  The report is based on an extensive literature review researched by Kimberley Ogonda. 

Download the report here

The report makes the following conclusions and recommendations:

  • There has been a lack of transparency in the approval process and development of the project;
  • Social and environmental assessments carried out by the project developer were inadequate, lacking consultation with affected people and not considering the project’s cross-border impacts;
  • There is an immediate need for regional government cooperation given the project’s transboundary impacts;
  • Given the project’s significant impacts on the Mekong River Basin’s fisheries, the dam is a major threat to the food security of a substantial number of Cambodian people;
  • The Lower Sesan 2 Dam should not proceed as it is currently planned as the potential human and environmental costs are unacceptably high;
  • There are more sustainable alternative energy options that can make a substantial contribution to Cambodia’s growing energy needs.  These alternatives should be investigated as a matter of urgency.