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Pak Beng dam, Lao PDR

In 2017, the Lao government approved a controversial project to build a dam that will displace thousands of people and will affect ecosystems in the Mekong river.


The Pak Beng Hydropower Project is the first dam in the cascade of hydropower projects planned on the mainstream of the Lower Mekong River, most of them in the Laotian part of the river. With an installed capacity of 912 megawatts, the dam will be  located about 14 kilometers north of the town of Pak Beng, in Laos, and 92 kilometers from the Thai border [1].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Pak Beng dam, Lao PDR
Country:Lao PDR
State or province:Oudomxai province
Location of conflict:Pak Beng
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

Capacity: 912 MW [3]

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Project area:7,659
Level of Investment: 2,372,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:4726
Start of the conflict:01/02/2017
Company names or state enterprises:Electricite du Laos (EdL) from Lao PDR
Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (Egat) (EGAT) from Thailand
Datang Pak Beng Hydropower Co., Ltd from China - Developer
Relevant government actors:Government of Laos
Mekong River Commission (MRC)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Rak Chiang Khong Conservation Group,
Rivers Coalition in Cambodia (RCC),
International Rivers (
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (undecided)
Under negotiation
Development of alternatives:NGOs are proposing to change the energy model in the region to promote other alternatives such as solar energy.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The project is still ongoing even though a case is open in a Thai court.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

1995 Mekong agreement
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[5] Technical Review of Pak Beng Hydropower Project, Mekong River Commission, May 2017
[click to view]

[6] Website Datang (Lao) Pak Beng hydropower Co., Ltd
[click to view]

[1] International Rivers, Briefing on Pak Beng Dam Lawsuit,
[click to view]

[2] Future Directions, Laos: Pak Beng Dam Project Approved, but at What Cost?, March 8 2017
[click to view]

[3] Factsheet about the Pak Beng Hydropower Project, Mekong River Commission,
[click to view]

[7] Thailand Delays Decision on Power Purchase from Pak Beng Dam, press release, International Rivers, March 13, 2018
[click to view]

[4] Independent Expert Review of the Pak Beng Dam EIA, International Rivers, May 2017
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Laura Villadiego, Carro de Combate, [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
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