Follow-Up Study on Impacts of Son La Resettlement

Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations
Monday, September 1, 2008

Villagers building their new houses
Villagers building their new houses
This study is based on a visit to eight resettlement areas in two different provinces in May 2008 to evaluate progress on resettlement at Son La. The researchers found that resettlement is not going as well as planned.

The most contentious aspect of Son La resettlement is the availability of sufficient arable land to replace what is being flooded by the reservoir. The researchers found that many oustees were returning to their old lands to grow rice for their families. Once the reservoir is filled in 2010, it is unclear how they will feed their families. Food subsidies provided by the government are insufficient due to a tripling of the price of rice over the past two years, and food supports are being phased out for many families. Government officials are encouraging oustees to grow rubber as a cash crop, but as it takes seven years for a rubber tree to mature, it is unclear what villagers will do in the interim period. In addition, there is simply insufficient land to sustain rubber plantations for all oustees, even if they were successful.

The researchers also found problems with availability of fresh water in the resettlement sites. Many oustees remain without fresh water supplies a year after moving. In some villages, water supply systems broke down soon after moving, and remain inoperable. Of most concern is the plan by Electricity of Vietnam to complete construction of the dam 2 years ahead of schedule. Resettlement is already behind schedule, and it is unclear how the government will move all the remaining villagers ahead of reservoir impoundment in 2010. The researchers make concrete recommendations for improving the resettlement program, but whether they are followed by the government remains to be seen.

More information: 

Read a 2006 study by the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Assocations on Son La resettlement.