On August 16, Laos began work on its second effort to dam the lower Mekong River, despite vehement objections from environmental groups and its neighbors — including Vietnam — who warn that doing so will sabotage the fisheries, farms and livelihoods of around 60 million people.
“Laos is not the only country in the [region] supporting damaging development,” Courtney Weatherby, the Southeast Asia Program research associate at the Washington-based Stimson Center, said.
According to Weatherby, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam have all expressed interest in buying electricity from mainstream Mekong power plants. Vietnam has already built projects in the Central Highlands that are collecting sediment that once brought much-needed nutrients to the Mekong Delta. Several Cambodian dams could do even more damage to fisheries than Laos’ high-profile work.
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