Nam Theun 2 Delays Reaching Critical Stage: International Rivers' Report

International Rivers
Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Nam Theun 2 Hydropower Project in central Laos is not ready for reservoir impoundment, according to a report released today by International Rivers. The report, based on a recent site visit by International Rivers’ staff, shows that shortcomings and delays in programs to compensate villagers and restore their incomes have not been addressed. Furthermore, it is unclear if resettlement infrastructure for more than 6,200 villagers on the Nakai Plateau will be completed on time for reservoir filling to begin in June 2008.
Shannon Lawrence, Lao Program Director for International Rivers, says: “Villagers, particularly those living downstream, are not ready to face Nam Theun 2’s impacts and time is running short. Considerable progress should be made to fix problems with livelihood programs before the dam gates are closed.”

The International Rivers’ report does note that belated plans to clear some vegetation from the reservoir area before flooding are a welcome development. But even this good news is compromised by the fact that the operation may be ‘too little too late’ to prevent significant water quality problems when the reservoir is filled.

Downstream, the program to mitigate Nam Theun 2’s impacts on villagers living along the Xe Bang Fai River is poorly designed, behind schedule and under-funded. The proposed US$16 million budget is inadequate to compensate more than 120,000 villagers for lifetime losses of the fisheries they depend on, let alone to provide livelihood alternatives and flood and erosion protection. These villagers will start experiencing significant impacts at the end of 2009 when Nam Theun 2’s power production begins.

Read “Nam Theun 2: Trip Report and Project Update”


Media contacts: 

Shannon Lawrence,, +216 23 456 969