In recent decades the Mekong region has witnessed a rapid development of large-scale hydropower projects in the name of energy security, economic growth and sustainable development. Yet do these justifications outweigh the social and environmental costs, and are these justifications even genuine?
From the Commons
The Khong-Loei-Chi-Mun project is the latest version of a long history of plans for large-scale irrigation in Northeastern Thailand. Visiting the area, Mai Lan hears how Thailand’s Royal Irrigation Department is pushing ahead with studies, as communities, NGOs, and downstream countries worry about the environmental and social impacts.
An increasing number of mainly young people migrate from provinces in Laos to Thailand for work. They can learn new skills and their cash income supports families in their home provinces But the migrant workers face many risks including work place dangers, human trafficking and safety and health issues.
Women fishers in Kratie Province, Cambodia are concerned about plans for the Don Sahong Dam upstream in Laos. They worry that the river’s fisheries and the endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin will be affected. Working with civil society groups, they have raised their voice through a campaign that has involved both protest and radio shows.
The Tra Su wetland forests provide food and income for local communities in An Gang province in Vietnam’s Mekong delta. Now the wetlands are being threatened by the extended drought in the Mekong region leading to loss of biodiversity and affecting local people’s livelihoods.
Economic growth in Southeast Asia has bought jobs and increased state revenues, but also wrought labour rights violations, community dispossession of land and natural resources, and environmental degradation. Carl Middleton argues that economic reform starts with greater Corporate Accountability, including across borders.