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Jirau and Santo Antonio Dams on Madeira River, Brazil

The two mega hydroelectic power plants, fueled by the Jipau and Santo Antonio dams on the Madeira River are to be completed by 2015, despite local opposition violation of human rights. In Jan 2016, Nilce de Souza Magalhães of MAB was assassinated.


Among the IIRSA projects approved in 2000- Initiative for the Integration of South American Regional Infrastructure -, there was the construction of two dams on the Madeira River, the biggest tributary of the Amazon River. The communities of Jirau and Santo Antonio, where the dams would be built, launched the Viva Rio Madeira Vivo campaign and oppose the megaprojects that would flood their territories and destroy the areas ecosystem.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Jirau and Santo Antonio Dams on Madeira River, Brazil
State or province:Rondonia
Location of conflict:Madeira River
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Water
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Santo Antonio Dam: The dam itself will be 13.9 m (46 ft) tall and 3,100 m (10,171 ft) long, creating a reservoir with a surface area of 271 km2 (105 sq mi) (164 km2 (63 sq mi) of which is the existing river channel). The dams power plant is divided into four sets of Kaplane-bulb turbines for a total of 44, each at 71.6 MW, for a total installed capacity of 3,150.4 MW.

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Level of Investment:15,600,000,000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:01/2006
Company names or state enterprises:Odebrecht Energy Luxembourg (Odebrecht) from Brazil
ANEEL from Brazil
GDF Suez (GDF Suez) from France
Eletrobras from Brazil
Energia Sustentável do Brasil from Brazil
Eletrosul Centrais Elétricas S/A from Brazil
Camargo Correa Investimentos em Infra-Estrutura S/A from Brazil
Relevant government actors:Brazilian government, FUNAI (governement's indigenous affairs department), Brazil’s Economic and Social Development Bank, BNDES
International and Finance InstitutionsInter-American Development Bank (IADB)
River Plate basin development fund - Fondo Financiero para el Desarrollo de la Cuenca del Plata
Banco Santander (Santander) from Spain
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social (BNDES) from Brazil
Caixa Fundo de Investimentos em Participações Amazônia Energia from Brazil
SAAG Investimentos S.A. from Brazil
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Movement Viva o Rio Madeira Vivo, Brazil, The Instituto Madeira Vivo (The Living Madeira Institute)
MAB, Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Religious groups
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Occupation of houses for displaced people
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Deaths
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession
Potential: Militarization and increased police presence
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Institutional changes
Negotiated alternative solution
Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
Nilce de Souza Magalhães, activist of MAB, was killed in Jan 2016 [1]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The Jirau dam was built, the displaced fisherfolk complained, one of their main leaders was killed. The two killers are known and might be brought to court in 2017.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

Convention 169 ILO

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Otro paso en la explotacin de los pueblos y territorios Sudamericanos, Friends of the Earth, 2003.

Las Venas del ALCA: Integracion de la Infraestructura Regional de Sudamrica, IIRSA.

Escritos sobre o agua, Forum Carajas, 2003.

The El Norte Amazonico de Bolivia y el Complejo del rio Madera. Fobomade, 2007.

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Madeira Fact Sheet, IRN, 2007
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Mutum até debaixo d'água / Ano da Produção: 2008 / Cidade: Mutum-Paraná Estado: RO / Duração: 14' 25''
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Inter-American Development Bank
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Madeira River, International Rivers Campaigns
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Madeira River dams, Survival
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The Madeira River Complex, AmazonWatch
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L'Inganno dei Green Bond, Re:Common
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Energia Sustentavel do Brasil
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MAB - Corpo de Nicinha é encontrado após cinco meses desaparecido. Publicado em qua, 22/06/2016
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[1] MAB, 22June2016, Corpo de Nicinha é encontrado após cinco meses desaparecido
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Other comments:The case is located on the site of the Santo Antonio dam. The Jirau dam is located some 120 km upstream (coordinates: -9.252335139936562, -64.64357172172485)
Meta information
Contributor:Lucie Greyl & Joan Martinez Alier
Last update23/06/2016
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