Sustainable Hydropower Dam Development in the Lao PDR: Mekong River Hydropower Dam (Xayabouly)

  1. Reason and Purpose: Article 1 of the Mekong Agreement which was signed jointly with 04 countries, namely Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia in 1995 has established the objective of using water resources from the Mekong River, aiming at using and managing sustainably as well as contributing to the socio-economic development of the 04 countries through navigation, fishing, irrigation, hydropower dam construction and so on. Also, Article 05 of the Agreement defines the mechanism on alerting announcement to each other regarding the use of the Mekong River (e.g. pumping water for irrigation, dam construction, etc.), as follows: It shall be acknowledge through the coordination committee of the 04 countries, the body of the International Mekong River Commission(IMRC) and prior to operating any activities, it shall be signed and certified by the other 03 member states. The first Mekong River Hydropower Dam is located in Xayabouly Province, having the capacity of 1,285 KWH. The total construction cost is USD 3,5 billion. The construction period is 08 years (2012 – 2020). The MOU of this project was signed with the Lao Government in 2007 and the feasibility study was conducted in 2008 and the Environmental and Social Assessment on Mekong Mainstream Dam was submitted in 2010. The Mekong River Commission has been acknowledged since 2010.

Due to the first project along the Mekong River which is shared among 04 countries, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia get too much concerned because it may affect the spawning of fish and the volume of water flowing into Vietnam and Cambodia may be reduced, especially during the dry season or it may affect the land areas for farming in Southern Vietnam as the sea will flow back because the volume of water is reduced, including the volume of water to flood in the forest and others. Therefore, after the Lao Government has notified the 03 countries regarding the intent of the Lao Government to construct the hydropower dam, the objection was made by the 03 countries as well as among local and international nongovernment organizations. They raised the several issues as mentioned above, which became a historical event to be discussed significantly in the meetings with the 03 countries as well as the local and nongovernment organizations for many times and it took many years for the Lao PDR to use the scientific data which has been designed by the international electrical construction company called Paoli Company. The results of the Environmental and Social Assessment were studied thoroughly including the complete prevention standard. Eventually, all doubts have been clarified and the construction has been commenced since 2012 until now.

Based on the Clean Energy Development Plan as well as the Hydropower along the Mekong River, the Lao PDR plans to construct more 07 dams. Therefore, I have had a strong interest in reviewing the processes through the case study of Xayabouly Dam because the construction of 07 dams shall be discussed with the other 03 countries and NGOs or INGOs, seeing that it shall be prepared and reviewed all recent lessons in order to use for clarification. On behalf of my own, I would like to contribute to ensuring the equity of all sectors as well as the collective benefits of the 04 countries. Thus, I have selected this topic as case study.

  1. Methodology and Timeline
  • The study period is from …………….. 2016 to ………………. 2016;
  • To review all recent documents;
  • To interview people who have resettled;
  • To interview some local and nongovernment organizations to get comments;
  • To interview representatives from 03 countries who work at the International Mekong River Secretariat;
  • To go on a study visit to see the progress of the dam construction;
  • To analyze and recommend
  1. Expected Results
  • To recognize the problems before and after the construction commencement;
  • To comprehend the coordination mechanism of the 04 countries under the Mekong Agreement 1995, especially the negotiation procedures at village, district and provincial levels.
  1. References
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