Joined Kim and Jon Cornford from Manna Gum in their backyard for drinks and nibbles last Friday evening as they raised a glass to the rational decision-making processes of post-communist single party dictatorships. In the late autumn cold we roasted chestnuts and ate some chips and cheese.
“As some of you will be aware, there has recently been an important development in the campaign to stop the building of the Xayabouri Dam in Laos. Laos agreed earlier this month to ‘postpone’ the project after strong objections from the Vietnamese Government. While it may not sound like much, given the political context this is a significant win for the Save the Mekong Campaign and a direct result of the campaigning work that has been done in the region and in countries like Australia. The battle is far from over, but we don’t get many wins in this work so we intend to celebrate it …”
Jon & Kim have worked faithfully on this campaign for over a decade and have produced some significant and helpful resources in reflecting upon the complexities of aid and development which you can access at Save the Mekong Campaign.
Laos says it will postpone dam project
Mekong scheme ‘a risk to fishing and farming’
Published in Bangkok Post : 10/05/2011
HANOI: Laos has told Vietnam it will suspend work on a controversial dam planned for the Mekong River, official media reported, after Hanoi sought a 10-year deferment of the scheme.
Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong informed his counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung “of Laos’ decision to temporarily suspend the Xayaburi hydropower project”, the Vietnam News Agency reported.
It said the two communist leaders met in the Indonesian capital on the sidelines of the Asean regional summit.
“PM Dung thanked the Lao Party and government for this important decision”, which reflected “deep consideration” of Vietnam’s position”, the agency report said.
At a regional meeting last month Vietnam, which has close political ties with Laos, voiced “deep” concerns about inadequate assessments and the risk of damage to its fishing and farm industries.
It called for hydropower projects on the mainstream Mekong to be deferred for at least a decade.
Workers had already begun building roads to the site in northern Laos.
Xayaburi is the first of 11 such projects proposed for the mainstream lower Mekong.
Environmentalists have warned that damming the lower Mekong would trap vital nutrients, increase algae growth and prevent dozens of species of migratory fish swimming upstream to spawning grounds.
The four countries are members of the Mekong River Commission (MRC), an inter-governmental body that deals with all Mekong-related activities including fisheries, agriculture and flood management.
More than 60 million people in the lower Mekong basin depend on the river system for food, transport and economic activity, the MRC said.
Laos is one of the poorest countries in the world and sees hydropower as vital to its future.