The Mekong River near the Xayaburi Dam site. The dam will raise water levels along 102 km of the river, flooding many villages and agricultural land.
Photo: Kirk Herbertson/ International Rivers

10.12.2012

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The construction of hydro-powered dams on the Mekong River in South-East Asia could jeopardise livelihoods, water access and food security for 60 million people, across Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, warned the authors of a study by World Wildlife Fund International (WWF) and Australian National University, Canberra. The study was presented

At the Third Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy, in November 2012, in Hanoi, Vietnam, WWF International presented a study on the impact of the projected hydro-power dams on the Mekong River in South-East Asia. The authors of the study warn that dams will block fish migration routes and decimate fish supplies in the lower Mekong region. “As fish dwindle, communities will have to look for alternative sources of protein, such as livestock and poultry. Raising these will require more land and water, and be prohibitively expensive”, said Stuart Orr of WWF International and co-author of the study. "People talk about food security in relation to dams but we need to put the numbers to what that really means."

The study was published in the October issue of Global Environmental Change.
Orr says that if all 88 planned dams were developed, Mekong communities would be faced with sourcing close to 40 percent of lost fish protein from other sources.

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