New Lao Dam Embroiled In Controversy: Report from a Fact-Finding Mission to the Nam Mang 3 Hydropower Project

International Rivers Network
Thursday, May 1, 2003

On November 22, 2002, an unprecedented protest took place in Laos. Some 40 ethnic Hmong men from Ban Phou Khao Khouay marched to the site of the Nam Mang 3 Hydropower Project armed with sticks and guns and demanded to speak with project officials. The villagers were infuriated that they might be evicted from their lands for the project and yet had received no information about where they would be relocated, when they would be moved, or what compensation they would receive. They threatened the contractors, telling them "to pack up and go home" if they failed to answer their questions about resettlement. The protest triggered a halt in dam construction that lasted five days.

This is the first time that a villager - led protest against a dam has been recorded in Lao PDR and the first time that a protest has stopped construction of a dam project in the country.