Asia
Infographic

Mekong Mainstream Dams

Mainstream Mekong dams have been proven time after time to devastate the river’s fisheries and agricultural processes along its floodplain.

Part of the Mekong Policy Project
Southeast Asia

This map shows the status of Mekong mainstream dams for most of the 4300km length of the river. Already China operates 11 of the world’s largest dams on the upstream portions of the map which combined store more than 47bn cubic meters of water and can generate 21,310 MW of electricity. 11 more dams are slated for the lower Mekong mainstream in Laos and Cambodia. In 2020 Laos completed the first two of its mainstream dams, the Xayaburi Dam and the Don Sahong Dam. Three others, Pak Beng, Pak Lay, and Luang Prabang have completed review processes mandated by the Mekong River Commission and could begin construction any time. In March 2020, Cambodia announced that it would postpone movement on its two planned mainstream dams to after 2030.

Studies produced by the Mekong River Commission and experts inside and outside of the region, including Stimson’s own analysis, have consistently shown the devastating economic and environmental downstream effects of these dams to the Mekong’s fisheries and agricultural processes on its floodplains from which tens of millions of people draw their livelihoods. This map does not show six other mainstream Mekong dams planned for China’s most upstream portion of the river and also does not show more than 400 dams planned or already constructed on the Mekong’s tributaries. This latest update removes the Mengsong Dam (China) from the map (cancelled) and updates the status of the Tuoba Dam (China) as a dam under construction.

This was originally published in January 2020. The content was last updated in June 2020

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