Hoa Binh Hydropower Dam, Vietnam


The Hoa Binh hydropower project was constructed in Vietnam's Hoa Binh Province on the Black (Da) River between 1979 and April 1994 and financed by the former Soviet Union at the cost of an estimated US$1.5 billion to US$2 billion. The dam sits at 734m wide and 128m high and its eight turbines have a production capacity of 1920 MW.

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Basic Data
NameHoa Binh Hydropower Dam, Vietnam
ProvinceHoa Binh Province, Da River
SiteHoa Binh
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Aquaculture and fisheries
Water access rights and entitlements
Water treatment and access to sanitation (access to sewage)
Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific CommoditiesWater

Project Details and Actors
Project Details1,920 MW
Project Area (in hectares)11,000
Level of Investment (in USD)$1.5 Billion - $2 Billion
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population58,000
Start Date11/1979
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ministry of Forestry, Ministry of Energy, Ministry of Agriculture
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersCommission for Social Sciences
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Local NGOs, International NGOs, International scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, 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
Potential: Waste overflow, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..)
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Institutional changes
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.An environmental impact assessment was not completed for the project; the only assessments were unofficial documents.

There was poor planning and a lack of foresight into conditions necessary for successful agriculture for resettled people. Where people received land compensation, soil fertility was poor and arable land was very limited.

During project construction there were no environmental laws to protect resources and livelihoods dependent on them.
Sources and Materials

1991 Law on Forest Protection and Development

1987 Land Law

1993 Land Law of Vietnam (only considered once project was mostly completed and already partially operational)

1992 Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (only considered once project was mostly completed and already partially operational)

1993 Law of Land and Territory


Nguyen, Ang Tuan (2012). A Case Study on Power Sector Restructuring in Vietnam. Pacific Energy Summit. Hanoi, Vietnam

Nguyen, Quang Tuyen (2010). Land Law Reforms in Vietnam “ Past & Present. Working Paper Series No. 015. Asian Law Institute.

Pham, Anh Huyen (2010). Evaluation of Socio-Economic Impact Assessment in Power Sector Projects in Vietnam. School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich. Masters Dissertation.

Bogachenko, P.T., Godunov, B.I., & Ne, Thai Phunc (1985). Characteristics of the First Stage of Constructing the Hoa Binh Dam in Vietnam. Plenum Publishing Corporation. Foreign Experience and Techniques.

Hirsch, Philip (1992). Social and Environmental Implications of Resource Development in Vietnam: The Case of Hoa Binh Reservoir. Research Institute for Asia and the Pacific, University of Sydney & Institute of Science Management, Hanoi.

Cao Thi Thu Yen (2003). Towards Sustainability of Vietnam's Large Dams: Resettlement in Hydropower Projects. Master of Science Thesis, Department of Infrastructure, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm.

Dang Quang Tinh (n.d.). Participatory Planning and Management for Flood Mitigation and Preparedness and Trends in the Red River Basin, Viet Nam. Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Doberstein, Brent (2003). EIA models and capacity building in Viet Nam: an analysis of development aid programs. Environmental Impact Assessment Review. Elsevier Inc. 24(2004) 283-318

Long, Le Thanh (2001). Vietnamese Water Resources Legislation and Legal Regulation of Dams: Viewed Through the World Commission on Dams' Suggested Policy Framework. American University International Law Review. Vol. 16, Issue 6, Article 9, pp 1631-1694

Nga Dao (2011) Damming Rivers in Vietnam: A Lesson Learned in the Tay Bac Region. Journal of Vietnamese Studies, Vol. 6, Issue 2, pp 106-140.

Nga Dao (2010) Dam Development in Vietnam: The Evolution of Dam-Induced Resettlement Policy Water Alternatives, Vol. 3, Issue 2, pp 324-340

Nga Dao Thi Viet (2012) Resettlement, Displacement and Agrarian Change in Northern Uplands of Vietnam. PhD Dissertation Graduate Program in Geography. York University. Toronto, Ontario.

Media Links

Vietnam National Committee on Large Dams and Water Resources Development:
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ContributorCarl Middleton, Sarah Allen, Matilde Sgotto
Last update24/06/2014