Naung Pha dam on the Salween River, Shan State Myanmar

The Naung Pha dam is one of many dams planned on the Salween River. 90% of the produced electricity will be exported to China, while the associated social and environmental burdens have to be carried by local Shan communities.


The cascade of large dams proposed on the free-flowing Salween River is a longstanding concern among residents, civil society organizations and academics [1,2,3,4,5]. The proposed 1,200 MW Naung Pha dam, located in Northern Shan State between Lashio and Ho Pang township, is one of these dams that has caused opposition and resistance by local groups and larger civil society networks.

See more...
Basic Data
NameNaung Pha dam on the Salween River, Shan State Myanmar
ProvinceShan state
SiteLashio and Ho Pang townships
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
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific CommoditiesWater
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe planned Naung Pha dam is located on the Salween River in Northern Shan State, between Lashio and Ho Pang townships [1].

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Myanmar and China was signed in December 2009 [1].

According to a briefing paper by Action for Shan State Rivers [1], the planned technical details are as follows: Height: 90m; Installed capacity: 1,200 MW; Reservoir size: 31.28 km (backwater length 110km);

The main companies reported to be involved are the Chinese state-owned Hydrochina Corporation, and the Burmese International Group of Entrepreneurs. Australian company Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation (SMEC) is responsible for the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) [see 1].

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is involved in a countrywide strategic environmental assessment (SEA) for hydropower development on the Salween river, which includes the Naung Pha dam. Civil society groups also denounced the IFC’s involvement in organizing stakeholder meetings that ignored the group’s opposition to the dam [10].
Project Area (in hectares)110km backwater length
Level of Investment (in USD)unknown
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Populationunknown
Start Date2009
Company Names or State EnterprisesHydrochina Corporation from China - developer
International Group of Entrepreneurs (IGE) from Myanmar - developer
Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation ((SMEC)) from Australia - consultant for impact assessments
Relevant government actorsUnion government

Ministry of Electricity and Energy
International and Financial InstitutionsInternational Finance Corporation (IFC)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAction for Shan State and Rivers (ASSR)

Shan State Rivers Network

Shan State Farmer Network

Shan Women’s Action Network

Shan Human Rights Foundation,

Shan State Women’s Organisation,

Shan Sapawa Environmental Organisation (SSEO)

Shan Students Union,

Committee for Shan State Unity (CSSU)

Tai Literature and Culture Association (Karli).

Burma Rivers Network,

Salween Watch

Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability (MATA)

International Rivers

and others
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Religious groups
Local ejos
Social movements
Fisher people
Local government/political parties
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local scientists/professionals
ethnic Shan groups
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: 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, Other Environmental impacts
OtherRisks of earthquakes
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Violations of human rights, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseStrengthening of participation
Decisions to go ahead with the project were made
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Decisions to go ahead were made, ignoring the opposition of many civil society organisations opposing the dam.
Sources and Materials

2014 Myanmar Electricity Law
[click to view]

2016 Myanmar Investment Law
[click to view]


[7] The Irrawaddy, online news, 23 August 2016. "Environmental Advocates: Salween River is Being ‘Sold Off’ to China". (accessed online 22.03.2018).
[click to view]

[1] Action for Shan State Rivers, Report from 23 August 2016. "Concerns about the Naung Pha dam on the Salween River" (accessed online 22.03.2018).
[click to view]

[click to view]

[2] Salween Watch, 14 March 2014. "Hydropower Projects on the Salween River: An Update". (accessed online 22.03.2018).
[click to view]

[5] Salween Water Governance: Matching Policies, Institutions and Practices of Water Governance in the Salwee-Thanlwin-Nu River Basin - Towards inclusive, informed, and accountable water governance. Chulalongkorn University.
[click to view]

[10] The Irrawaddy, online news, 17 January 2018. "Locals Upset Over IFC Meeting Regarding Salween Hydropower Project". (accessed online 22.03.2018).
[click to view]

[8] Media release by Shan State Farmers’ Network (Tang Yan), December 24, 2017. "Northern, southern and eastern Shan State Farmers oppose the planned Naung Pha and other hydropower projects on Salween River". (accessed online 22.03.2018).
[click to view]

[4] International Rivers 2012. "The Salween River Basin: Dam Cascades Threaten Biological and Cultural Diversity". (accessed online 22.03.2018).
[click to view]

[9] Eleven Myanmar online news, 24 August 2016. "26 Shan groups call for halt to Salween dams"(accessed online 22.03.2018).
[click to view]

[6] The Nation online news, 24 August 2016. "Shan community groups want Salween dams scrapped".(accessed online 22.03.2018).
[click to view] on the Salween Dam Cascade (November 2016)
[click to view]

Burma Rivers Network on the Naung Pha dam
[click to view]

Other Documents

Community leaders protest the Naung Pha dam Source and Photo credit [1];
[click to view]

Protests against the hydropower project Source and Photo credit [1];
[click to view]

Protests against dams on the Salween River Source and Photo credit:
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorEJatlas Southeast Asia Team ("at"
Last update04/05/2018