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Upper Yeywa dam on the Namtu River, Shan State, Myanmar

The Upper Yeywa dam will flood traditional Shan villages and irreversibly change the unique characteristics of the Namtu River. Farmers, environmentalists and human rights organizations mobilize against the dam project.


The Upper Yeywa dam in Nawngkhio township is one of four planned hydropower dams, located on the Namtu River. The 60km long reservoir will entirely submerge the Shan village Ta Long, which is a prosperous village located along the river banks, where generations of farmers have relied on the fertile soils of the river banks without any needs for fertilizers. Large concerns over the social and environmental impacts of the dam project have been voiced that have been detailed in the report “Save the Namtu River”, published by the Shan Human Rights Foundation, the Shan State Farmers’ Network and the Shan Sapawa Environmental Organization (see [1]). Famers, human rights and environmental activists call for an immediate cancellation of the dam project until a nationwide peace agreement is achieved [1,2].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Upper Yeywa dam on the Namtu River, Shan State, Myanmar
State or province:Shan State
Location of conflict:Kyaukme (Nawngkhio, Thibaw/Hsipaw township, La Tong village)
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:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The Upper Yeywa dam is part of a series of dams on the Namtu River. The Namtu River (Dokhtawaddy or Myintgne river in Burmese) originates in the mountains of eastern Hsenwhi and flows through Namtu, Hsipaw, Kyaukme and Nawngkhio townships, before joining the Irrawaddy in the Mandalay plains.

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Project area:60 km long reservoir
Level of Investment for the conflictive projectunknown
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:650 homes in Talong will be sumerged. Potential livelihood impacts caused by the changing river ecology may affect thousands of people
Start of the conflict:2008
Company names or state enterprises:Stucky SA from Switzerland - constructor
Myanmar Electric Power Enterprise (MEPE) from Myanmar - operator
Yunnan Machinery Import and Export Co. Ltd from China - constructor
Zhejiang Orient Engineering (ZOEC) - constructor
Lahmeyer International GmbH Switzerland from Germany - constructor
Toshiba Hydro power (Hangzhou) Co., Ltd from China - supply of turbines and generator
Resource and Environment Myanmar Co. Ltd from Myanmar - ESIA consultant
Relevant government actors:Burma’s military regime, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC)
Khin Maung Soe, Minister for Electric Power
International and Finance InstitutionsChina Export Import Bank (Chexim) from China
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Shan State Farmers Network
Shan Human Rights Foundation,
Shan Sapawa Environmental Organization
And others
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Religious groups
Shan ethnic 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
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Refusal of compensation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: 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, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Increase in violence and crime
Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Strengthening of participation
forced compensation
Proposal and development of alternatives:Proposals and recommendations according to the report launched by Shan Human Rights Foundation Shan State Farmers’ Network and Shan Sapawa Environmental Organization:
"1) To immediately halt all current dam-building plans on the Namtu, including the Upper Yeywa Dam
2) Only when there is a negotiated federal settlement to the ethnic conflict, bringing genuine nationwide peace and decentralized natural resource management, should options for future hydropower development along the Namtu river be considered
3) Any future plans for hydropower
development on the Namtu River must involve a transparent strategic impact assessment along the entire river
4) There must be Free Prior and Informed Consent of affected indigenous communities for any future hydropower projects along the Namtu River"
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The project continues
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

2016 Myanmar Investment Law
[click to view]

2014 Myanmar Electricity Law
[click to view]

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

[1] 2016 Report "SAVE THE NAMTU RIVER: Impacts of the Upper Yeywa and other planned dams on

the Namtu in Shan State", published by Shan Human Rights Foundation, Shan State Farmers’ Network, Shan Sapawa Environmental Organization. Accessed online (19.03.2018)
[click to view]

[2] The Myanmar Times, 29 November 2016. "Hundreds of Shan farmers protest Upper Yeywa dam". (accessed online 18.03.2018).
[click to view]

[3] The Myanmar Times, 28 March 2017 "Demand to stop dam projects". (accessed online 18.03.2018).
[click to view]

[4] Shan State Farmers' Network, Press release, 28 November 2018. "1,500 farmers demand cancellation of Upper Yeywa Dam as war in N. Shan State escalates" (accessed online 18.03.2018)
[click to view]

[5], 30 March 2015. "Toshiba wins turbine contract for Myanmar's 308-MW Upper Yeywa hydropower plant". (accessed online 18.03.2018).
[click to view]

[6] Shan Human Rights Foundation, Media Advisory, 13.03.2018 "Talong villagers’ 4th Prayer Ceremony for NamTu River to free flow" (accessed online 18.03.2018).
[click to view]

[7] Media Statement by Talong villager, 8 March 2018. "Talong villagers strongly oppose public consultation on Upper Yeywa dam" (accessed online 18.03.2018).
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:EJatlas Southeast Asia Team ("at"
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:3400
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