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Nam Theun 2 hydropower dam, Lao PDR


The Nam Theun 2 dam is currently the largest hydro-electric power plant in Lao PDR. In spite of being a supposed ‘showpiece’ project, it has been associated to large negative social and environmental impacts.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Nam Theun 2 hydropower dam, Lao PDR
Country:Lao PDR
State or province:Bolikhamxay province (main dam), Khammouane province (power station) and Savannakhet province (transmission line)
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional 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:Electricity
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The operating company Nam Theun 2 Power Company (NTPC) is comprised by an international consortium holding the following shares:

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Project area:45,300
Level of Investment:1,580,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:6200 (displaced) + 110,000 (affected downstream)
Start of the conflict:31/03/2005
Company names or state enterprises:Nam Theun 2 Power Company Limited (NTPC) from Lao PDR - dam, hydro-electricity
Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) from Thailand
Electricité de France International (EDF) from France - energy, electricty, hydro-electric dams
Lao Holding State Enterprise (LHSE) from Lao PDR - hydroelectric dams,
International and Finance InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Asian Development Bank (ADB)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:TERRA (Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance)
International Rivers
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), 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: Malnutrition
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Development of alternatives:The alternative proposal by villagers and environmentalists was to keep the area as it was. However, this was not achieved, and affected communities had to accept the alternative proposed by the project leaders - insufficient compensations.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The project was finished and is now in operation.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

(7) Guttal and Shoemaker 2004: Manipulating Consent: The World Bank and Public Consultation in the Nam Theun 2 Hydroelectric Project .Watershed Vol. 10 No. 1 July – October 2004
[click to view]

(10) The "Doing a Dam Better" World bank report on the Nam Theun 2 dam
[click to view]

(4) Fact sheet from NGO International Rivers
[click to view]

(9) Brettonwoods on the project approval by the World Bank
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

(1) Nam Theun 2 dam on wikipedia
[click to view]

(2) NTPC Company website (accessed 06.02.2015)
[click to view]

(3) BBC article (2007) on the Nam theun 2 dam
[click to view]

(6) 2005 Article on Probe International regarding villager protests
[click to view]

(8) Asia News article on protests of environmentalists against the Nam Theun 2 dam
[click to view]

(5) New York Times article (2014) on Nam Theun 2 dam
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:A. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB) / [email protected]
Last update24/02/2015
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