Millions of people living along the Mekong River face a possibly irreversible depletion of key food supplies resulting from dam building and other diversions of its waters.
Deforestation upstream along the riverbanks and poor land and water use practices in Vietnam’s downstream Mekong Delta have added to what can only be called a looming crisis.
The Mekong is Southeast Asia’s longest river, with 60 to 70 million people depending on it for food, commerce, irrigation, transportation, and drinking water.
But the river’s slowly developing crisis rarely gains much attention from mainstream Western media.
“China’s construction of hydropower projects on the upper Mekong River…has shown Laos that it can ignore protests from downstream countries about the negative effects of its dams,” says Brian Eyler, deputy director of the Southeast Asia program at the Stimson Center in Washington, D.C.
Eyler says that hydropower developers “can easily skirt environmental laws and produce misleading environmental impact assessments.”
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