Vientiane Times, October 11, 2012
The Xayaboury Hydropower Development Project is playing a significant role in improving public infrastructure, education and healthcare for the people of Xayaboury district, helping them to rise above poverty, a senior official has said.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with *Vientiane Times * recently, Xayaboury district Governor Ms Bounphak Inthapanya said construction of the dam is giving district authorities the chance to relocate villagers from remote areas to places where they have access to roads, electricity and
One village of about 350 people in 75 families has moved from the dam construction site near the Mekong River to a purpose built village about
30km away. Six other villages have moved from the riverbank to higher ground.
Without the assistance of the project developers, the villagers would remain in darkness due to a lack of electricity, she said.
They would also continue to go without proper education and healthcare services and other development opportunities.
Ms Bounphak said the development project promised better living conditions for those who had sacrificed their homes to make way for the dam, the first run-of-river dam to be built in the lower Mekong River.
“The project has promised to improve living conditions for the families who have to relocate. There would be no point in them moving if their living conditions stayed the same or got worse,” she said.
Local authorities and project developers have drawn up guidelines for the relocation of households from the project site.
Ms Bounphak said each relocated family will be given land and a two-storey house, farmland, job training opportunities and funding to help initiate some means of earning a living.
Five categories of house will be made available, depending on the value of the occupants’ former house. A committee has been set up to estimate the value of the existing houses to ensure families get a better house.
“People who had a house valued at four to five million kip will now get a house worth 50 million kip. The highest value house to be offered will be
worth close to 200 million kip,” Ms Bounphak said. This is an indicator that the developers intend to fulfill their commitment to providing
relocated families with better living conditions, she added.
Each family will be given 0.75 hectares of farmland so they can grow crops and trees. Each family will also get full compensation for the crops and trees they left behind.
Ms Bounphak said the project developers will ensure that the resettled families have access to a road, electricity, water supply, education, and
healthcare. In their former village, they did not have electricity or water connections and had to travel some distance to central Xayaboury district for healthcare. The project developers will also provide each family with funding and training opportunities so they can earn an income. Some people have begun to raise pigs and fish for sale.
“The Xayaboury dam development project has promised to buy crops and animals grown and raised by the villagers,” Ms Bounphak said.
During the transition period, the villagers will be given a living allowance for up to one year while they adjust to their new environment.