Buon Kuop Hydroelectric Project, Vietnam

"We, the 11,000 villagers living along the Srepok River have been facing negative impacts and are seriously concerned about the hydropower development for the Srepok River basin in Vietnam." (Villager statement regarding the dams’ impacts) [1].


The Srepok River is a tributary of the Mekong River, originating in the Central Highlands of Vietnam and flowing across Cambodia’s Mundulkiri, Ratanikiri and Stung Treng provinces. The river basin covers around 29,450km2, of which 11,250km2 are located in Cambodia, being home to 144 villages, mainly inhabited by Punong, Jarai, Tampuon, Brao, Krueng, Thmon and Kraol ethnic minorities. Being a unique and resource rich ecosystem, the Srepok river basin has been of high importance for the livelihoods of the villagers, which is mainly based on agriculture, fishing and collection of non-timber forest products. The region has been further home to many cultural and spirituals beliefs of local indigenous [1].

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Basic Data
NameBuon Kuop Hydroelectric Project, Vietnam
ProvinceĐắk Lắk Province
SiteDak Nong, Srepok River
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Dams and water distribution conflicts
Interbasin water transfers/transboundary water conflicts
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Carbon offsets
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe Buon Kuop hydroelectric dam has a production capacity of 280MW and is a project operated by the Buon Kuop Hydropower Company, which his part of the state-owned Vietnam Electricity (EVN). The dam is reported to have a reservoir size of 560ha [8].

In 2005, Japanese Sumitomo Corporation was contracted to provide two turbines and supervise the installation. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was conducted by Swedish SWECO Company and funded by Swedish and Norwegian development agencies Sida and NORAD [1].

The total estimated project cost was reported to amount to 286.5 million USD. Regarding finance of the project, in 2003, ABN-AMRO was reported to provide loans amounting to 100 million USD to Vietnam Electricity (EVN) for the project realization [7] and the Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development of Vietnam provided two loans; the first amounting to 136.3 million granted in 2003; the second amounting to 70.9 million USD, granted in 200 [1;7]. For further finance details, see [7].

In 2005, also the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and the Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI) considered financing the project. However, following correspondences with the Sesan Protection Network (which later on turned in to the S3 Rivers Protecting Network), the Japanese finance institutions stepped back due to concerns regarding large social and environmental impacts [1].

Around 144 Cambodian villages, home to around 11,000 villagers, are negatively affected by the project [1]. In total, around 1 million people live in the watershed area of the Srepok River [8].
Project Area (in hectares)560
Level of Investment (in USD)286,500,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population11,000 most directly affected in Cambodia, much more indirectly affected in Cambodia and Vietnam
Start Date2006
Company Names or State EnterprisesBuon Kuop Hydropower Company from Vietnam - hydropower
The Electricity of Vietnam Group (EVN) from Vietnam - energy industry
SWECO group (SWECO) from Sweden - consultancy
International and Financial InstitutionsABN Amro Bank (ABN AMRO) from Netherlands
Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development from Vietnam - finance, investment, banking
Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) (SIDA) from Sweden - development agency
Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) (NORAD) from Norway - development agency
Environmental justice organisations and other supporters3S Rivers Protection Network; The NGO Forum on Cambodia; International Rivers; Probe International
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Punong, Jarai, Tampuon, Brao, Krueng, Thmon and Kraol ethnic minorities
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Other Health impacts
Potential: Malnutrition
OtherImpacts due to floods caused during the construction
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Displacement
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Strengthening of participation
The project's application for CDM credits was cancelled
Development of AlternativesAffected communities demand proper compensation
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The dam was construction and is now in operation, while downstream communities are heavily affected.
Sources and Materials

1995 Agreement on the cooperation for the sustainable development of the Mekong river basin
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[2] International Rivers, online: "Srepok Dams" (accessed 08/07/2015)
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[3] ICEM online (15/07/2013): "ICEM fieldwork reveals significant local impacts of dam projects" (accessed 08/07/2015)
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[7] Banktrack.org, online. Buon Kuop dam project Viet Nam. (accessed 08/07/2015)
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[1] International Rivers, online (29/06/2009): "NGO Forum on Cambodia Comments Re Buon Kuop Hydroelectric Project (Vietnam)" (accessed 08/07/2015)
[click to view]

[4] International Rivers, online (01/02/2007): "Sharing the Srepok River: Cambodian Communities Downstream of Vietnam Dams Finally Get a Hearing" (accessed 08/07/2015)
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[5] International Rivers, online (20/09/2011): "Success Stopping CDM Registration of Harmful Large Hydro Projects" (accessed 08/07/2015)
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Other Documents

Damaged houses after 2006 flooding Source: http://www.banktrack.org/show/dodgydeals/buon_kuop_dam_project#tab_dodgydeals_finance
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Kid suffering from skin rash http://www.banktrack.org/show/dodgydeals/buon_kuop_dam_project#tab_dodgydeals_finance
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Dam site Source: http://www.banktrack.org/show/dodgydeals/buon_kuop_dam_project#tab_dodgydeals_finance
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Boat on the Srepok River Source: http://www.banktrack.org/show/dodgydeals/buon_kuop_dam_project#tab_dodgydeals_finance
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Villager - Srepok River Source: http://www.banktrack.org/show/dodgydeals/buon_kuop_dam_project#tab_dodgydeals_finance
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[5] Community Statement over Hydropower Dam Construction on the Srepok River Vietnam (12/01/2007)
[click to view]

[8] Mekong Utility Watch (2007) on the Buon Kuop Project (accessed 08/07/2015) Source: http://www.banktrack.org/manage/ems_files/download/utility_performance_electricity_of_vietnam_buon_kuop_hydropower_project/070401_utility_performance_buon_kuop.pdf
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorA. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB)
Last update10/07/2015