Lower Klity Creek is the main source of water for the hundreds of Karen families living in the Thongpaphum district of Kanchanaburi province in western Thailand. For the last five decades, a lead factory has released toxic waste, poisoning the rivers and creeks and leading to illnesses and death from lead contamination in the water and food. The Jo family is one of the Karen families still living with the toxic contamination and living in unimaginable suffering. Even though the factory was shut down in 1998, the toxic legacy of poisoning remains. Although the villagers have fought and won court cases against the company to clean up the creek, so far the authorities have not provided any effective clean-up measures.
One of the most beautiful sights in Vietnam’s capital of Hanoi is the large number of lakes and streams dotted around the city. The more than 100 small and large lakes are an icon, part of the local culture and benefiting Hanoi’s tourism. The lakes also provide environmental benefits like regulating city floods and providing quiet and green spaces for the city residents. But rapid urbanization is resulting in pollution, encroachment and degradation that is threatening the lakes. Without urgent and concerted action, the city’s lakes may become mostly dumps for rubbish and affect the health and livelihoods of the city’s residents and the scenic beauty of Hanoi.
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.
In Thailand, communities still suffer impacts of the World Bank’s Pak Mun Dam over 25 years after construction started. Whilst fisheries are decimated, and the communities’ fishing culture largely lost, compensation is inadequate. Yuka Kiguchi asks what are the responsibilities of the World Bank and Government for restitution and redress?
Riverbank erosion along the Xe Bang Fai River in central Laos caused by the Nam Theun 2 hydropower dam creates problems for villagers’ riverbank crops, homes and livelihoods. Without compensation or assistance from the company, and with concern about their future, villagers are starting to plan their own protection strategy.
The Mekong Delta Study initiated by Government of Vietnam (2013-2015) aimed to look at the impacts of Mekong mainstream hydropower on Vietnam’s Mekong Delta that is the rice and fruit production centre for Vietnam. But the weak study process ignored local people’s concerns and has failed to protect the Mekong Delta and its communities.
For the indigenous peoples of Cambodia, land and forests are a living link to the spirits of their ancestors and nature. Ethnic Punong, Tampuan, Kreung, Brao and Laos communities are fighting against the Lower Sesan 2 dam in northeastern Cambodia that threatens their culture, livelihoods and food security.
In Vietnam, the “Land for Infrastructure” policy attracts private investment into public infrastructure by promising land for private investment. At the Ecopark project near Hanoi, whilst the project’s developer has profited handsomely, farmers’ land was taken with inadequate compensation leaving them with few prospects for the future.
Forty years have passed since the Second Indochina War, but still hundreds of people in the region die or are injured each year by the unexploded ordnance. Mai Lan explores the situation in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, and asks whether the Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions is having an impact on the ground?
Despite strong local protests, Thailand’s military government is going ahead with oil drilling in Kalasin province in northeast Thailand. As the regime breaks its promise of a just energy policy, once again local people are paying for the real costs of the country’s ambitious energy plans.