Participant Reflections from a Cambodian Study Tour to Lao’s Theun-Hinboun Expansion Project Dam Site
From February 13-18, 2012 thirteen participants took part in a study tour to the Theun-Hinboun Dam expansion project in Lao PDR. Traveling from Steung Treng Province in Cambodia this diverse group, made up of Cambodian provincial government officials, NGO workers and community members came to learn more about Laos’ experience in hydropower development. Funded through the CPWF Innovation Fund, the trip aimed to “build capacity at the provincial level in Cambodia to engage in hydropower development processes more effectively and evaluation the quality of the project plans, including resettlement and compensation packages and environmental management plans.”
For these participants, the trip was very personal; Cambodia’s Steung Treng Province is the proposed site for a new 400 megawatt hydropower dam, the Lower Se San 2. The Lower Se San 2 is the first major hydropower project to be approved for Cambodia’s stretch of one of the Mekong River’s most important tributaries, the Sesan-Srepok-Sekong river system. The dam will require the resettlement of approximately 6,500 people, all of whom will be entitled to some form of compensation.
One of the primary concerns for the trip’s participants was the status of resettlement and compensation packages and how Laos’ experiences in providing such packages could be applied in Cambodia. The Theun-Hinboun Hydropower Company, which operates two dams in Laos, is recognized for its comprehensive resettlement and relocation packages.
The trip represented a unique opportunity for Cambodian stakeholders to engage with Lao government officials, the Theun-Hinboun Hydropower Company and affected communities. The process of learning firsthand about the impacts of hydropower development on communities and the mitigation measures that are being undertaken in the region was a valuable experience for many participants. Hear what they had to say:Kev Mim, Head of Kbalromeas Village, Steung Treng Province, Cambodia (upstream of proposed Lower Sesan 2 Dam) Chon Oun, villager from Phlouk Village, Steung Treng Province, Cambodia (downstream of proposed Lower Sesan 2 Dam)
The ‘Sharing Lessons on Hydropower Development Processes and Stakeholder Engagement between Cambodia and Lao PDR’ study tour to the Theun-Hinboun Expansion Project was made possible through the support of a CPWF Learning to Innovate grant. The trip was jointly organized by the Cultural and Environmental Protection Association (CEPA) and the Lao Department of Livestock and Fisheries (DLF). CPWF Mekong Project 5 played a crucial role in facilitating the interaction with the company and government departments. WorldFish assisted CEPA and DLF on designing the study tour itinerary.