Stung Cheay Areng hydroelectric dam in Koh Kong, Cambodia

Indigenous land for dubious dams? Activists, monks and villagers from Areng Valley fight against the construction of the Stung Cheay Areng hydroelectric dam.


The Areng valley in the Cardamom Mountains has become a contested area due to hydroelectric dam proposals that would entail massive negative impacts on people and the environment. The area is inhabited by the Chong people, an ethnic minority of the traditional Khmer people (Khmer Daeum), who are said to live in the forests for more than 600 years [1]. The Cardamom Mountains are also a well-known biodiversity hotspot, providing the world largest habitat for Siamese crocodiles and other 31 endangered species [1;2].

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Basic Data
NameStung Cheay Areng hydroelectric dam in Koh Kong, Cambodia
ProvinceKoh Kong province
SiteThmor Bang District (Cardamom Mountains)
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 CommoditiesElectricity
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe hydroelectric dam has a planned capacity of 108 Megawatt [7].

This corresponds to an energy provision for 87,000 US style households during rainy season. Provision however will go down to 46% of capacity during dry season, when Cambodia’s energy demand however is the highest [1].

Investment size was reported to amount to 327 million US dollar [3].

Reservoir size will cover between 10,000 and 20,000 ha [3]

The company working as consultant (impact assessments etc.) is Sawac Consultants for Development.
Project Area (in hectares)10,000 - 20,000ha
Level of Investment (in USD)327,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population1,500 directly affected (not counting for downstream impacts)
Start Date01/10/2006
Company Names or State EnterprisesChina Guodian Corporation (China Guodian) from China
Sawac Consultants for Development Ltd. (SAWAC) from Cambodia - consultancy, impact assessments
Sinohydro Corporation Limited (Sinohydro) from China
China Souther Power Grid (CSG) from China - hydroeletric power, dams,
Relevant government actorsLao Meng Khin senator (CPP)

Choeung Sopheap (wife of Lao Meng Khin)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersDirectly involved:

Mother Nature; Khmer Youth Empire; Independent Monk Network for Social Justice.

Further involved: International rivers, Conservation International, Wildlife Alliance, Flora and Fauna International, and others
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Religious groups
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Development of a network/collective action
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Militarization and increased police presence, Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Loss of livelihood
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Development of AlternativesAccording to local NGO Mother Nature, their central proposal is “To stop the Chhay Areng hydro-electric dam from being approved at all costs, due to the massive impact it would have on the whole Cardamom forests and on the lives of the local indigenous Jong communities;” [4]
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.It is not yet clear what the outcome will be, though currently it seems that the project will go on.
Sources and Materials

[5] IR 2008. Cambodia's Hydropower Development and China's Involvement. International Rivers & Rivers Coalition in Cambodia. (accessed 02/03/2015)
[click to view]


[1] Mother Jones online article (19/10/204): "Will Cambodia Flood a sacred and Biodiverse Valley for a Dubious Dam?"
[click to view]

[2] New York Times article online (28/07/2014): "A Threat to Cambodia's Sacred Forests'" (accessed 02/03/2015)
[click to view]

[3] Comparison of performance of different dams in the regions, as provided by Mother Nature (accessed 02/03/2015)
[click to view]

[4] Website of Mother Nature (NGO)
[click to view]

[6] Phnom Penh Post article (14/02/2015): "Areng Valley dam activist given marching orders" (accessed 02/03/2015)
[click to view]

[7] Phnom Penh Post article (02/03/2015) "Activist summoned over alleged crimes" (accessed 02/03/2015)
[click to view]

Wikipedia on the dam
[click to view]

Open Development on hydropower in Cambodia
[click to view]

Media Links

New York Times video on the conflict
[click to view]

"Fight for Areng Valley". Video made my filmmaker Kalyanee Mam
[click to view]

Other Documents

Villagers and monks block the access to the development site Source: (accessed 02/03/2015)
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorA. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB) / arnim.scheidel "at"
Last update04/03/2015