International Court Finds Guatemala Guilty for Rio Negro Massacres

Carlos Chen Osorio, who lost his wife and two toddler daughters in the massacre, leads the row during the Via Crucis
Carlos Chen Osorio, who lost his wife and two toddler daughters in the massacre, leads the row during the Via Crucis. Photo by James Rodriguez For more than 20 years, the Maya-Achi people displaced by the Chixoy Dam have sought justice for the massacre of their husbands, wives and children that took place during Guatamala's civil war in the early 1980s. Last week their years of effort were finally recognized when the Inter-American Court on Human Rights found Guatemala guilty of the violation of human rights against the communities of Rio Negro. “After so many years struggling to seek justi

Ongoing Problems Faced by Communities Affected by Nam Song and Nam Leuk Dams

Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Oct. 24, 2012 Anthony Jude, Director Energy Division, Southeast Asia Department Asian Development Bank 6 ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong City 1550, Philippines Re: Nam Song and Nam Leuk Hydropower Projects, Lao PDR Dear Mr. Jude, I am writing to follow up on the implementation of the Nam Song-Nam Leuk Environmental Mitigation Plan and review missions conducted by the ADB. In March 2012, an International Rivers’ consultant conducted a site visit to eight villages affected by the Nam Song Dam and three villages affected by the Nam Leuk Dam to assess the state of the mitigation plans. In light of

Damming Nigeria's Wetlands People: Communities Work Together to Restore Lives And Livelihoods

Flooding in Nigeria's HJKY basin is a serious problem.
June 2008 World Rivers Review: Legacy Issue In Nigeria, floodplains and wetlands are rich sources of livelihood for millions of people. These wetlands communities have been losing ground for many years, however. Nigeria's most important wetlands, the Hadejia-Nguru Wetlands, have shrunk by as much as two-thirds in the past 30-40 years because of diversions from dams, irrigation developments and drought. Fisheries, farming and wildlife are all impacted by these hydrological changes. The Hadejia-Jama'are-Komadugu-Yobe basin - home to an estimated 25 million people - is a semi-arid to arid sub-cat

Lessons Learned on Chixoy

June 2008 World Rivers Review: Legacy Issue  An interview with Elizabeth Bevington, a member of a team of 20 pro-bono lawyers with Holland & Knight, LLP (H&K), which advises COCAHICH on the Chixoy negotiations. Involvement of a well-respected neutral facilitator is key. We began the process with a government agency in charge of human rights as the organizer and moderator of the meetings. That process did not work well, and we recommended involving a neutral party. After some due diligence, Roberto Menendez of the Organization of American States (OAS) was identified as a pot

Interview: Basilwizi Trust, Zimbabwe

Sunday, June 15, 2008
June 2008 World Rivers Review: Legacy Issue Fifty years ago, Tonga communities were forced to give up their traditional homeland during construction of Kariba Dam. Unforgiving terrain combined with the country's devolving political and economic situation have left the Zimbabwean Tonga facing greater challenges than their Zambian relatives, whose community well-being deteriorated following an inadequate resettlement. Starting in 2000, the Tonga-led Basilwizi Trust in Zimbabwe began helping rewrite the future of its people. International Rivers' Africa campaigner Terri Hathaway caught up with Bo

On Trust, Justice and Restoring Dignity: The Long Path for Reparations in Guatemala

Paulina Osorio was born in a village flooded by Chixoy Dam. Her parents were murdered by Guatemalan paramilitaries when she was 9.
June 2008 World Rivers Review: Legacy Issue  "History does not allow injustices to vanish just because we are unable to address them."  Colombian author William Ospina The fight for justice made by the communities affected by the Chixoy Dam in Guatemala has been going on for more than two decades. Their story is stupefying. At the time the dam was being built, horrendous persecution and even massacres of people in the dam region took place at the hands of the dictatorship. The indigenous Maya-Achí communities that lived on lands adjacent to the Chixoy (Negro) River wher

High Stakes for the Next Wave of Dams

June 2008 World Rivers Review: Legacy Issue  Our world is full of serious problems, from escalating violence and war to global food and water shortages to increasingly deadly natural disasters. With so many urgent issues, why should we care about the legacies of large dam development? At least 80 million people have been forced to make way for dams. Clearly, the world's 50,000 large dams have played a major role in fueling modern economies. Yet they have also flooded some of the most productive agricultural lands in the world. Changes in downstream water quality have decimated

World Rivers Review: Focus on Legacy of Dams – June 2008

Paulina Osorio was born in a village that was flooded by Chixoy Dam. Paramilitaries murdered over 400 villagers during the building of the dam, including Paulina’s parents, when she was 9.
Addressing the LegacyLarge dams have created a sad legacy of social injustices and environmental degradation that often outweighs the benefits they bring. The parties involved in approving, financing, designing and building dams should be held responsible for solving problems created by dams, but in the majority of cases, responsible parties have taken few or no steps to resolve outstanding problems, leaving affected people to fend for themselves. This special issue of World Rivers Review reports on a few key reparations case studies, and describes actions that people around the globe are taki

Left High and Dry: African Communities Seek Justice for Harm Caused by Dams

Friday, August 1, 2008
Kariba Dam, on the Zambezi River in what is now Zambia and Zimbabwe, was the engine for the African copper mining industry, generating wealth for colonialists, and then to spur development of the two countries after independence. It was the World Bank’s first dam project. It is also one of Africa's most notorious cases of a people wronged in the name of national development. Today, it symbolizes Africans' quest for reparations for development-induced displacement, thanks to a home-grown alliance that is working to document the past wrongs and suggest ways forward for the affected

The World Bank's Big Dam Legacy

Wednesday, October 17, 2007
As the World Bank plunges back into the large dam business, the legacy of its past dam projects remains unresolved. This briefing paper highlights the ongoing social, environmental and economic problems of a number of Bank-funded dams, and provides recommendations to address this legacy.


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