The Don Sahong Dam
Potential Impacts on Regional Fish Migrations, Livelihoods, and Human Health
Author: Ian G. Baird
Plans are underway to construct twelve large hydropower projects on the un-dammed lower and middle mainstream Mekong River in Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia. One of the planned projects is a 30–32 meter–high hydroelectric dam with an expected 240 MW installed generating capacity to be built on the Hou Sahong Channel, less than one kilometer north of the Laos–Cambodia border, in the Khone Falls area of Khong District, Champasak Province, southern Laos. The project's objective is to generate revenue by exporting electricity to Thailand or Cambodia. Concerns have been raised about the Don Sahong Dam(DSD), however. The main ones relate to potential repercussions on aquatic resources, and especially wild-capture fisheries dependent on migratory fish. This article examines the regional implications of the DSD, including possible impacts on food security, nutrition, and poverty alleviation. Fisheries losses in the Mekong Region from the DSD would negatively affect the nutrition of hundreds of thousands or even millions of people, especially in parts of Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand where nutritional standards are already low. Mekong fisheries are integral to food security in the region, and the DSD would make it difficult for governments, especially in Laos and Cambodia, to reach their health-related United Nations Millennium Development Goals and their objectives for reducing poverty.