WASHINGTON — Laos, the only landlocked country in Southeast Asia, plans to build more than a hundred hydropower dams on major tributaries and the mainstream of the Mekong River, aiming to become the “Battery of Southeast Asia”.
Controversies surrounding two of the mega dams, the Xayaburi and Don Sahong, have not been resolved, yet Laos is preparing to launch its next big dam, the Pak Beng on the Mekong, which is expected to bring further negative impacts on food security and environment across the region, according to Courtney Weatherby, research associate at the Stimson Center.
“And the first of which is still an ongoing issue, and it is the 2015-2016 drought that occurred throughout the Mekong region. It is the most severe drought in 90 years of recording.”
Weatherby added that the hydropower dams in Laos would also affect other downstream countries, such as Cambodia and Vietnam.
“It’s not all that dissimilar to what we saw from Laos, so what we really see here is that the water scarcity emerging during drought is going to become a source of attention for the region that we’ve seen concerns in Cambodia and Vietnam in particular over the diversion.”
Laos has not put forward a comprehensive plan to balance enery needs against downstream impacts, says Brian Eyler, the Stimson Center’s Southeast Asia director.
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