Giving Compass’ Take:
• A dam that was supposed to bring clean energy and development along the Mekong has hurt local communities that rely on fishing for sustenance.
• How can development projects be designed with all stakeholders in mind to improve outcomes for all? How can philanthropists get involved to help ensure equitable distribution of goods in a development project?
On a bucolic stretch of the Mekong, near Cambodia’s northern border, people can tell you all about hydropower. The dam is why fish catches have been dropping, steadily, for the past few years. The dam is why so many young men have taken up logging jobs of dubious legality. The dam may mean development, some local people concede, but they say it won’t be for them.
Despite many campaigners’ and activists’ best efforts, major hydropower projects have remained a cornerstone of development plans in the Mekong region for years. But as new bodies of data emerge on the real potential economic and environmental costs of large dams, countries in the region are beginning to show some tentative signs of rethinking their options — even amid a major boom in dam projects.
“People in rural areas like this, our main food is fish. When they build the hydropower dam, it means that they kill us,” said Thit Poeung, a 40-year-old father of five from Koh Preah village, a teardrop-shaped island of fishermen and farmers, surrounded on all sides by the Mekong.
“Development means for the rich. The poor are still poor because they don’t benefit from that development. Who is that development for then?” Thit Poeung questioned.
Read the full article on hydropower on the Mekong by Abigail Seiff at Devex International Development.
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