Mekong: Science matters

Xayaburi Dam


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With 60 million of people depending on the Great Mekong River, postulation should be put aside as science musts prevail.

The Laos government found it is incumbent for them to execute their plan and have officiated the ceremony to launch the construction of Xayaburi Dam Project on the 7th of November.  Building the dam is another issue, if built, this project will provide a door of opportunity for the other 10 dams which are currently being proposed.  This construction imposes more harm than good to the 60 million people who rely on their protein source as well as the detrimental affect towards the  water species in the river.

The Mekong river holds many functions.  It acts as a free flowing river housing a number of fishes migrating as well as a source of protein for the 60 million people.  The fish industry goes up to $7.6 million annually and the natural flood phenomenon cycling aiding the agriculture brings another $4.6 million.

The governments of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos do acknowledge the unique  function of the lower Mekong River and the necessity to run detail research is required.  In December 2011, the Mekong River Commission has agreed to conduct additional research on the Mekong River on the effects of the Xayaburi dam will bring.  Unfortunately, till up to date, questions are being left unattended without answers upon the damage that the mainstream dam will impose to the biodiversity of the Mekong River and the agriculture.

These questions are for the ministers of finance, agriculture and health.  These questions are for the countries, banks and donors  that had invested in the development of the Mekong River for the past 25 years for Laos and the downstream countries.  Economic growth gained at the expense of food security is no development victory.

The lack of support towards opposing the project in the recent Asia Europe  meeting tacitly mirrors the support of the Xayaburi Project.  The sustainable development  has been continuously promoted by the European and U.S  and most definitely, Xayaburi Project is not part of the solution towards food security, economic opportunity, energy access and a stable climate.

According to the WWF-Global website, the Xayaburi dam is a crucial test case. Are recent discussions about the trade-offs required to achieve food, water and energy security just talk? Or are governments and investors willing to go beyond buzzwords like “nexus thinking” where it truly matters? The nations of the lower Mekong have an opportunity to turn concept into reality by taking a balanced approach to meeting food, water and energy needs, while conserving the natural resources that underpin all of these.

Thailand being the main consumer of the electricity produced is being called by WWF to obtain a general agreement dams.  For now, at least four banks have expressed their interests in funding loans for the project.

The risk of building a dam across the lower Mekong river is just too high.  If this project commence, there will be 10 more proposed projects waiting in line to approved.  There are other solutions to develop a hydropower along the Mekong tributaries by minimising the contribution of any detrimental effects toward the livelihood an such.

Listen to science.

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