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A man paddles his boat through a flooded village in the Sanamxay district, Attapeu province, Laos, July 26, 2018 (AP photo by Hau Dinh).

The Promise and Pitfalls of Hydropower Development Along the Mekong River

Friday, Oct. 5, 2018

The collapse of a dam this summer in southeastern Laos, which triggered massive flooding that killed dozens and displaced thousands of people, has brought a renewed focus on hydroelectric dams in mainland Southeast Asia. Proponents of hydroelectric dams argue they will bring benefits in the form of national revenue and power generation for local communities, but they also threaten the food security and livelihoods of millions of people in the riparian countries that make up the Lower Mekong region: Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. In an email interview, Diana Suhardiman, a senior researcher at the International Water Management Institute’s office in Vientiane, Laos, discusses the tradeoffs associated with large-scale dam projects.

World Politics Review: What has been the environmental and economic impact of existing dams in the Lower Mekong region, and what additional impacts will be felt as a result of dams along the Mekong’s mainstream? ...

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