CPCS Chula

Center for Peace and Conflict Studies Chulalongkorn University

Regional Public Forum on The Don Sahong Dam in Lao PDR: Perspectives from Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam

Regional Public Forum on The Don Sahong Dam in Lao PDR: Perspectives from Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam

 At 8.30-16.30 on 19 February 2014

Room 105 at Maha Chulalongkorn Building

Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok


Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, Chulalongkorn University

Department of Water Resources Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University

Chula Global Network

Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance, Foundation for Ecological Recovery

International Rivers

Purpose and Goals

Don Sahong Dam, 256MW, is expected to abrade Hou Sahong, the most important river channel for fish migration and breeding in Siphandon – an area of braided rivers where the complexity of rapids and rocky beds shape this area into one of Lao PDR’s, and Mekong region, most abundant aquatic environment. Siphandon is located in Khong District of Champasak Province in Southern Lao PDR and is less than two kilometres away from Laos-Cambodia border. It is home to two famous waterfalls, namely Khone Phapheng and Lipi. Among the river channels,hou, of Siphandon, Hou Sahong is the only channel where water runs year-round, making it a key migratory route for Mekong fish.

On 30 September 2013, Lao PDR submitted a “Notification” via Mekong River Commission (MRC) to other member countries, indicating its intent to proceed with the Don Sahong Hydropower Project. The difference between “Notification” and “Prior Consultation” process is that, the Prior consultation is the process which abides by the terms of 1995 Mekong Agreement, as a process to propose project that identify as Mekong mainstream project that can cause transboundary impacts on Mekong countries. However, Lao PDR claimed that the Don Sahong Dam is only blocking one channel of Mekong mainstream. Even though Laos has not declared that Don Sahong is located on a Mekong tributary, it also does not accept that it is a mainstream project either.

Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam all sent a letter to Lao PDR expressing concerns over immediate impacts posed by the Don Sahong Dam on fishery and livelihoods of local communities and the people of Mekong. The three countries demanded Lao PDR to seek for “Prior Consultation” and conduct further feasibility study and more thorough environmental and social impact assessment of the project.

Despite the consensus to elevate the discussion on the Don Sahong Dam to ministerial level Son-La-hydroelectric1-300x225during the last Special MRC Joint Committee meeting on 16 January 2014, Lao PDR still insisted on moving forward with the project. A
t the meeting, Laos anticipated to: 1) welcome joint monitoring for the Don Sahong project during all stages of development; 2) conduct another site visit tour in 11-13 March 2014 to witness that fish would be able to migrate through other channel in the surrounded areas in dry season; and 3) hold a technical workshop in the first week of March to discuss all of the technical and environmental issues related to the project to deliberate all legitimate concerns of all stakeholders (Statement of Lao Delegation to MRC JC, 16 January 2014).

But, other stakeholders are still concerned. Lao PDR’s anticipations do not coincide with the progress of the Don Sahong Dam. Lao government proposed to start construction in November last year and expected the project to be completed by February 2018 before selling power to Electricite du Laos (EDL) in May 2018.

This regional public forum aims to inform the public and all stakeholders in Thailand and other Mekong countries about the Don Sahong Hydropower Project. The objectives of this forum are:

  1. To improve understanding and inform general public of the progress of Mekong Mainstream dam projects and the factors and conditions that lead to transboundary impacts, starting from the four completed Chinese dams upstream and the next four Chinese dams that are already under construction, to the most recent Xayaburi Dam in lower part of Lao PDR.
  2. To emphasize the importance of studies of Mekong dam projects and their impacts on aquatic resources and local livelihoods in affected area conducted by local communities and experts as a crucial factor for any decision on large-scale hydropower projects.
  3. To come to a consensus of opinions among civil society and academia before making recommendations to Lao PDR’s Don Sahong Dam. Key concerns will focus on transparency and cooperation among neighbouring countries on Mekong dam projects. The work will coincide with the progress of the Don Sahong Dam and long-term implementation under the context of a constantly changing government decision on large-scale development projects.


60-80 participants, including media, government officials or MRC representatives, civil society, academia, students, general public from Thailand and CSOs from other Mekong countries.

Agenda (Tentative)

8:30-9:00 Registration
9:00-9:20 Welcome and Introduction of Forum

By Representative from Chulalongkorn University

9:20-9:40 Background and Current Situation of Mekong Mainstream Dam Projects

By Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance, Foundation for Ecological Recovery

9:40-10:00 Mekong Agreement and Its Implementation Under the Framework of Mekong River Commission  (MRC), MRC Secretariat and the Four Country Members (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Vietnam)

By (TBC)

10:00-10:30 Addressing Outstanding Issues Related to Lao PDR’s Don Sahong Dam Project

1)      Understanding Fluvial Geomorphology and Water Flow of Siphandon

By Dr. Chaiyuth Suksri, Department of Water Resources Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University

10:30-10:50 Break
10:50-11:20 Addressing Outstanding Issues Related to Lao PDR’s Don Sahong Dam Project

2)      Understanding Local Fishery

By Mr. Chheng Phen, Acting Director of Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute (IFReDI), Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), Cambodia

11:20-11:40 Mekong delta and concerns over the dams on Mekong mainstream

By Dr. Le Duc Trung, Director-General, Vietnam National Mekong Committee, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (TBC)

11:40-12:00 Community Research on Impacts of Dam Projects and Flooding in Mekong

By Network of Community Organization Council of Seven Northeastern Provinces in Mekong Basin

12.00-12.30 Questions from the journalists/participants
12:30-14:00 Lunch
14:00-16:00 Group Discussion Among Civil Society and Academia and Recommendations to Dam Projects on Mekong River, by:

  • Representative from Cambodian Civil Society
  • Representative from Vietnamese Civil Society
  • Representative from Thai Civil Society (Pak Mun Dam)
  • Representative from Academia (TBC)
  • Representative from Company/Bank (TBC)

Moderator: A representative From an International Organisation Working on Issues Related to Mekong River (e.g. International Rivers –TBC)

16:00-16:20 Wrap-up

Discussion on Transboundary Impacts in Mekong Region and ASEAN

By Professor Surichai Wun’Gaeo, Director, Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, Chulalongkorn University

16:20-16:30 Closing Remarks by: (TBC)


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This entry was posted on June 11, 2014 by .


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