Last update:

Ywathit dam on the Salween River, Karenni state, Myanmar

The plans for the mainstream Ywathit dam on the Salween river threaten the existence of the ethnic Yintale, the stability in the region and the return of internally displaced people to their homelands.


The largely free flowing Salween River (also known as Thanlwin, or Nu river) nurtures a unique river ecosystem and represents a livelihood source for thousands of local residents from different ethnic groups. A cascade of mainstream dams proposed on the river has caused large concerns among villagers and civil society groups over heavy social and environmental impacts [1,2,3,4]. The Ywathit dam is one of the mainstream dams located in Karenni State, close to where the Pai tributary river joins the Salween river [2]. 

See more
Basic Data
Name of conflict:Ywathit dam on the Salween River, Karenni state, Myanmar
State or province:Karenni state
Location of conflict:Ywathit
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Deforestation
Land acquisition conflicts
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The dam would be located at Ywathit in Karenni state, approximately 45 km from the Thai Border [2].

See more
Level of Investment:unknown
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:several thousands [6]
Start of the conflict:2010
Company names or state enterprises:China Datang Corporation from China - developer
Shwe Taung Corporation from Myanmar - developer
Kunming Engineering Corporation Limited from China
Relevant government actors:Ministry of Electric Power, Myanmar
Department of Hydro Power Implementation
Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC)
and others
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Karenni Development and Research Group (KDRG)
Karenni Civil Societies Network (KCSN)
Karenni Environmental Group
Burma Rivers Network,
Salween Watch Coalition
International Rivers,
And many others
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
ethnic Karenni are affected, particularly the Yintale, a sub-group of the Karenni.
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Arguments over stability and peace in the region, disturbed by this large-scale project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Militarization and increased police presence
Potential: Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Strengthening of participation
Preparatory work (road construction, surveying); clashes between Burmese army and ethnic armed forces, violent attacks of engineers [1]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Despite the tensions and the potential large-scale impacts, the plans to construct the dam continue to be pursued.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

2012 Foreign Investment Law
[click to view]

2012 Vacant, Fallow and Virgin Lands Management Law
[click to view]

2012 Environmental Conservation Law
[click to view]

2016 Myanmar Investment Law
[click to view]

2014 Myanmar Electricity Law
[click to view]

2015 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Procedure
[click to view]

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

[7] Suhardiman, D., Rutherford, J., Bright, S.J., Suhardiman, D., Rutherford, J., John, S., Putting, B., 2017. Putting violent armed conflict in the center of the Salween hydropower debates. Crit. Asian Stud. 49, 349–364.
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[5] The Irrawaddy, 17 August 2013. "Peace be dammed". (accessed online 04.05.2018).
[click to view]

[4] The Irrawaddy, 19 January 2015 "Civil Society Organizations Call for Halt to Salween Dam Projects". (accessed online 03.05.2018).
[click to view]

[1] Burma Rivers Network on the Ywathit Dam (accessed online 03.05.2018).
[click to view]

[3] on the Salween Dam Cascade (November 2016)
[click to view]

[8] [5] "Myanmar’s toxic legacy of large dams". Article by Beth Walker, The Third Pole, 14 March, 2017. (accessed online 03.05.2018).
[click to view]

[2] Salween Watch, 2014. "Hydropower Projects on the Salween River: An Update" (accessed online 03.05.2018).
[click to view]

[6] Burma News International, 16 March 2011. "Karenni organization holds dam construction press conference" (accessed online 04.05.2018).
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Voices of the dammed, by Burma River Network
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:EJatlas Southeast Asia Team ("at"
Last update07/05/2018
Legal notice / Aviso legal
We use cookies for statistical purposes and to improve our services. By clicking "Accept cookies" you consent to place cookies when visiting the website. For more information, and to find out how to change the configuration of cookies, please read our cookie policy. Utilizamos cookies para realizar el análisis de la navegación de los usuarios y mejorar nuestros servicios. Al pulsar "Accept cookies" consiente dichas cookies. Puede obtener más información, o bien conocer cómo cambiar la configuración, pulsando en más información.