Western Banks Sell Lao Villagers Down the River

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Theun-Hinboun Expansion Project, currently under construction in Central Laos, is displacing thousands of people from their homes and land, and depriving thousands more of access to fertile rice fields, riverbank vegetable gardens, grazing lands, forests and fisheries. International Rivers and BankTrack have published a report which documents how three private banks that are financing the project - Australia's ANZ Bank, Belgium's KBC Bank, and France's BNP Paribas - are violating their own guidelines and Lao law in supporting the project. 

The banks funding the project have promised that people’s lives will be restored. They must take this responsibility seriously and put people before profits.

Erosion along the Hinboun River
Erosion along the Hinboun River
Carl Middleton
The project is an expansion of the existing Theun-Hinboun project, which has dramatically changed water levels downstream, causing massive erosion and flooding which has led to the loss of fertile agricultural land, fruit trees, riverbank gardens, livestock and boats in more than 55 villages. The new project will result in additional flooding and displacement, making life unbearable for many people. One of the villagers in Tha village told International Rivers, “The project company did not appropriately compensate for the existing project and we are already poor. With the expansion project, the company will make us poorer!”

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