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Term Paper_Local Knowledge and Rights in the Mekong River's Ecosystems

Term Paper_Local Knowledge and Rights in the Mekong River's Ecosystems

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Master Program in Sustainable Development Faculty of Social Science, Chiang Mai University

Local Knowledge and Rights on the Mekong River’s Ecosystem: A Case Study of A Mekong Riparian Community under Dam Construction Proposed Project

By Tanasak Phosrikun 540435901

Submitted To Professor Dr. Yos Santasombat Lecturer Dr. Santhita Ganjanapan Lecture Prek Gymantasiri

This Term Paper is a Partial Fulfillment for A Course on Local Rights and Knowledge in Sustainable Development First Semester of 2011


Introduction Section 1: Local Knowledge on the River Cosmology of the People Definition of Local Knowledge Topic 2: Property Rights Systems: Capitalism VS Localism Topic 3: Natural Resources Management: Development VS Conservation Topic 4: A Case Study of Mekong Riparian Community Mekong Development Program and Dam Construction

1 3 3 4 6 8 10 10

Ban Koum Hydropower Wier Proposed Project in the Mekong Mainstream River 12 Mekong Ecosystems: Knowledge and Rights 14

The Folk Story of Love on Mekong Mainstream as Mode of Ecological Analysis 16 The Fishing Gears The Use of Mekong River Ecosystems Access Rights in the Mekong Ecosystems Conclusion Reference 18 19 21 22 24

Around 60 million people depend on protein from the fish in this river and its tributaries and more than 50 ethnic groups were remains in this region. Then it became the border between Northern Burma and Northern Laos. China. Chinese Government employ the language to legitimize the dam construction by call the Mekong River that “Lancang Jiang” and define the Mekong River that it is not international river inside China. So. but in other hand. Cambodia and Vietnam. proposing to build the dam in the Mekong Mainstream and its tributaries to generate the electricity for improve the average income higher than the UN poverty line and engage the economic . the river created the cultures and livelihood and vis-à-vis. Now the Upper Mekong River remains 4 dams in Southern China. They represent the Mekong River Commission member‟s benefits. The Lower Mekong Countries including Laos. Around 4. Then it flows inside Laos pass the ancient mandala state Luangprabang. For a decade that China build the dam in the Upper Mekong River. It causes flood and drought in the downstream of the dam site. Then became a border line again between Middle Laos and Northeastern Thailand then flow to the Southern Laos. Recently.900 kilometers that the Mekong River passes. fill the water to Tonlesap in Cambodia. Even the intergovernmental organization such as The Mekong River Commission also does not dare to claim the impacts from the Chinese Dams. it crated the diversity of ecosystems in its mainstream and its tributaries. MRC is the representative of the government that not really protect the benefit for the local people. and between Northern Thailand and Northern Laos. Thailand. which is an important lake in the Mekong River Basin and lastly it isolate became 9 branches created the wetland area call Mekong Delta in the Southern Vietnam.1 Introduction The Mekong River is an international river commences in Tibetan Plateau and flow to Yunnan Province. because the level of the water changing irrelevant to the season. there are the CSOs from the Lower Mekong Mainstream contesting the Chinese Government. The Lower Mekong Basin facing the dam development project in the region. they try to deny the negative impact from the Upper Dam Construction.

This plan call “Greater Mekong Subregion” programs. This case study I took in 2008 when I join the EarthRights International School-Mekong Training Program. In Development Plan in the Mekong River Basin. But as we know that the Mekong River is the international river. NGOs. These developmental factors are the new challenge of the local knowledge and rights on the water resources for many years ago. in Ban Khun Tha Kwain Villager. I will examine these local knowledge and rights on natural resource in the villager‟s worldview. people. which is the Mekong riparian community and the border between Thailand and Savanaket Province. Tumbon Na Pho Klang. Ampheo Khong Chiam. Laos PDR. this complexity of rights and knowledge may cause a lot of fuzziness in power relation on Mekong Resources Management for the member governments. the Asian Development Bank (ADB) also play the key role in improve infrastructure to integrate the economic cooperation in the region. Under the context of development in Neoliberal Globalization period. This village located on the Mekong Riverbank as a riparian community for many generations before the nation-state establishment and border demarcation. INGOs. Ubonratchathani Province. especially Laos had the certain plan to be the “Battery of Asia”. CSOs and so on.2 growth. Then I will analyst the situation of the local knowledge and rights on access Mekong River in the context of regionalization of the Mekong Subregion and Greater Mekong Subregion Program (GMS). technology and cultures around the region faster than the past. then the consequence of this program is the flow the capital. The local knowledge and access rights on the natural resources were developed for many generations. . Local People. From the interaction between the villagers inside the community as a social interaction and the interaction between the villagers and the ecosystem surround their habitat. I would like to examine the livelihood of the village as a micro level issue to reveal the value of the Mekong Ecosystem through the value of the knowledge and rights on its mainstream.

000 cultures remaining. non-scientific knowledge and cosmology and follow the direction of Westernization to increase the economic growth and become rich. Because in this world there are more than 5. When the scientific knowledge was developed and become the dominant knowledge. Dolmatoff studied the cosmology of the indigenous people in the forest area. For many decades in Thailand. after the lost of trust in scientific knowledge on natural resources management that cause a lot of environmental degradation. such as the hunting game to collect the animal was determined by the shaman. in the development discourse. the tradition. When the development and the scientific knowledge dominate the world development direction for four decades. When the local knowledge was excluded as non-knowledge. The cosmology of the people is a first important concept to make understanding on the people‟s livelihoods especially important to study local knowledge issue. the other cosmology and knowledge was excluded as non-knowledge. the “carrying capacity” of the protein sources. especially in the areas call the “South”. He found that the cosmology of the people in many places of the world remain the knowledge of ecological analysis. The shaman is the spiritual leaders who control the amount of hunting animal and powerful in the community member‟s belief (Dolmatoff: 1976). Especially. The consequence is the there are a lot of environmental degradation in Thailand and Thailand lost a lot of forest land from . It represents the diversity of the people‟s worldview or universal view in this world. they convince the subject countries leave the local tradition. we found that both natural resources management and natural resources for development were controlled by the state power. In the case of Tukano Indian of Colombia in Northwest Amazaon.3 Section 1: Local Knowledge on the River Cosmology of the People Local Cosmology and Local Knowledge was raised up by the alternative perspective. cultures and cosmology was identified as the obstacle of development or it oppose development. both the development projects and conservation project excluded the local knowledge from the natural resources management.

For the local knowledge. because the local knowledge can employ to use in a certain local area. social control. the local knowledge also represent the power on natural resources management‟s competitiveness. and the local people pass this knowledge from one generation to the next generation. more than the knowledge point of view. the area remains the diversity of ethnic groups and cultures. norms. More than the scientific process in instrument creation. the local knowledge relevance to the knowledge of management. improve and develop like the scientific process. the scientific knowledge also developed from the biodiversity such as the food and medicine. The different is the mechanism to control the use of biodiversity of the local people related to the local knowledge and social relation on natural resources. Actually the local knowledge can not be identify that it is scientific or not. In the biodiversity area in Northern Thailand. The biodiversity of the certain area also create the diversity of knowledge and vis-à-vis. In the same way. Yos Santasombat (2003) suggest to classify the knowledge in 4 layers included: . traditional knowledge. ethnic. Whereas the community forest conservation project in many communities in Thailand achieve the goal of use and management by the local people. This definition is the linear of thinking and this analysis freezing the local knowledge stuck in the pitfall of the dichotomy thinking of knowledge definition. there are many definition of local knowledge. That means the local knowledge can employed to manage the natural resources. This knowledge is related with each others in a certain community or group of the people. Definition of Local Knowledge So. the elder‟s knowledge. unimportant knowledge. rural knowledge. This mechanism is very competitive in sustainability of forest conservation.4 the state management ideas. gender and so on. but mainly the people understand the local knowledge as the non-scientific knowledge. some instrument was developed as mechanic system and was test. belief and so on. Some local knowledge also was call as “local technology”.

norm systems to control the member of the group or community. Most of the people examine the local knowledge in the village or community. social interaction. from one to others areas. who depend on the forest for many generations. The forest remains biodiversity of fauna and flora that can be the cause of local knowledge or indigenous knowledge of the people. which located in the certain place and that place is surrounding by the forest area. But when Nygren studied . these new comers was stigmatized as the encroachers of the forest. In this case Nygren argue that most of the anthropologist do not interested in the migrant forest encroachers. exchange and adaption for many decades. cosmology and episteme of the local people on their habitat and resources. the important thing that come with the human being is knowledge. In the opposite site. then the people will employ their knowledge in a new context for their survive. there are a resettlement program brought the people from other area to this forest area. 3) Belief and Ritual: The social control. are differ unlike the way that the people who live in the habitat before the new comers. This local knowledge‟s definition also remains the axis idea of certain area. Because human being can moving around. Nygren contested the old meaning of local knowledge in the forest use knowledge. 2) Production and Resources Management: Knowledge to manage the resources for produce the food and medicine for consumption. because they are contaminated by modernization and has no autochthonous tradition.5 1) Food and Medicine: The knowledge to collecting and processing the food and medicine. When the people from one certain context move to located the habitat in another context. These kinds of knowledge were developed in the certain mountainous areas through generations. especially in neoliberal globalization period. Because the way they came from and the way knowledge that they employ to extract the forest for survives. 4) Mode of Thoughts: the way of thinking. the problem of the local knowledge falls in the pitfall of dichotomy thinking again. The form of knowledge also can be changeably to the context of the certain areas.

because the people can apply their knowledge according to the situation of the new area (Nygren: 1990). because the people can employ their knowledge to use the natural resource in a certain habitat. this process the state employ the law to enclosure the land from the people to accumulate the profit from the production. that knowledge is risk to disappear. because the capitalism proposed the rights on property to accumulation. it should be defined in a certain context of the people who depend on the certain area. the local knowledge can not be exist. Especially the issue of power relation on the resource should be one of the local knowledge form. Topic 2: Property Rights Systems: Capitalism VS Localism As I mention in the Local Knowledge Topic that without power. So. So. belief. In industrial revolution in Britain. In the colonial period the colonial employ violence power to accumulate the land and labor (Li: 2007). southeastern Nicaragua. they have a lot of knowledge to occupy the new area related to the social relation. This knowledge was called “Situated Knowledge”. but the properties concept was created by capitalism to facilitate the human to accumulate. the state has to change the land and natural resources as the property for this propose. the specific context should be one of the local knowledge definition related to other perspective of gender.6 the migrant peasant in Rio San Juan. because without power on knowledge. In sum I may argue that the local knowledge‟s definition can not be only one meaning or universal meaning. ritual. Bromley (1991)‟s argument on the property rights is that the mode of thought of property rights regimes between the capitalism and local knowledge are different. and so on. class. In order to have local knowledge practice. So. the . management. these migrant peasant not just the encroachers as the traditional knowledge. The local knowledge can be existed. Daniel W. the people have to manage the use of the resources as the systems to arrange the access to the members of the groups or communities. in the market economy. Usually the people did not see the natural resources as properties. there are the first primitive accumulation emerge in the history.

The types of rightful are action in the ways of permissible and inviolable and it is may interfered by impermissible. for instance they do conservation by exclude the use of the people out of the natural resource. the property remains virtue of collective perception rather than physical perception. So.7 property rights in the capitalism economic regime remain tree main kinds of right included First is state property. For example there are many rights on the river ecosystem and forest is controlled by rights of regular use called “usufruct rights”. Second is private property that the individual have rights to use refrain in socially conventional way. rights systems of local knowledge are different. The environment policy always remain failed perception of the natural resources by divide the natural resource to be dichotomy thinking ways. the common property was the rights to use. social relation. . this has no defined group or „owner‟ and no benefits stream to anyone. kinship and so on. which included some rights engage to common use. which the individual have duty to use by the determination of agencies. Nonproperty. age. some rights are private use. Third. It is “open access resource” which to everyone to reach out. the common property regime is not only open access system of the all people who desire. This kind of rights was called “compossible rights” and the rights that claimed by many two rights in the same property called “incompossible rights” (ibid: 1991). some rights are current use and so on. because the system of local knowledge‟s rights is very complex. but it was accept and claim by a certain group or community. This rights regime called “local rights”. This rights has to be socially respectable acceptance in the use of resources. but it has the correlation with the society system and system itself works like private and state property. In term of common property regime. So. Forth. This rights mean that the rights of use by the individual person in a certain places. because it relies on the local network in one certain group of people or community and the collective form of practice. gender. Bormley likes to use term of “common property regime” to explain the real situation of the common property. manage and maintain by the group user.

but it is the issue of the power relation. The Karen people accumulate this strategy of social construction as the “children of forest” to against the discourse of “forest destroyer” to share the power on natural resource management (Yos: 2004). So. there are many research on the highlander‟s livelihood illustrate that the highlander‟s knowledge of “Rotational Shifting Cultivation” can sustain the forest use and management. Especially in the mountainous area. representation of the indigenous knowledge or local knowledge is not just the issue of good or bad on natural resources management. It can lead the misunderstanding of the rotational shifting cultivation only a proportion instead of holistic understanding in long term period. These kinds of analysis and understanding were called “deductive” viewpoint. Whereas the state‟s perspectives represents the highlanders as “forest destroyers” and harm national security. For example there are Royal Department of Forestry to control the forest and Royal Department of Marine to control the river as state property also.8 Topic 3: Natural Resources Management: Development VS Conservation Because of the state property rights regime tries to exclude the people from the natural resources. many indigenous people pass their knowledge on cultivation for a long time ago. His point is the Karen‟s “limited legitimacy” undermining the Karen‟s shared power on resources management and development assistance because the development workers and the scholars in Chiang Mai University represent the overstate image of Karen People as the guardian of the forest and the “children of the forest” (Walker: 2011). In Southeast Asia. the way that the state make the observation and conclusion is shortage. But Yos Suntasombat argued that the construction of the Karen‟s image is the accumulation of cultural capital to contest the hegemonic discourse of the state. They set the department to manage and control the resource. there are many scholars did a research to support the state share the power to legitimize the Karen People on forest management. The knowledge space is the cultural capital that the people also transform to . Andrew Walker argue that the Karen people manage the forest and natural resources based on their economy and for subsistence value. which destroy a lot of forest area in mountainous area. The state mention that the highlanders practice shifting cultivation or swidden by slash and burn practice.

Toward Community Based Resources Management and Co-Management Concepts The mode of co-management of natural resources is important for institutionalization for the local rights in a neoliberal globalization context. who use. The consequence of the co-management can be both successful or fail Most of the successful case remains the equal power between the members or stakeholders. monitor and control the forest use and conservation and the CSOs and state have rights to be the ownership and engage the management program (Li: 2002 and Persoon and Van East: 2003). The huge concession for the company excluded the local Indian to access the fisheries resources (Salmon). The Mekong Regionalization did not focus on the co-management between the Mekong member countries. For the Mekong River Basin. who play the coordination role to bring the local people and governmental organization to join the program.9 the symbolic power to against the hegemonic discourse (Yos: ibid). Co-Management is a model to share the power from the state power on natural resources to engage the rights of the people to use and conservation. state. From these arguments the co-management or community based management is the new form of management that concern the issue of multiple actors in natural resources management. but the rights system should be complexity of rights systems in the forest management (Anan: 2008). The model of successful case is the case of co-management in the Pacific Northwest Region. The Mekong River Commission and Great Mekong Subregion Programs are . Anan Ganjanapan suggest to go beyond the rights system should not be just the state or Karen‟s rights. and national level to shared the knowledge and institutionalized the committee on Salmon Resources management in Northwest Pacific Region (Sigleton: 2001). And because it is the border between United States and Canada. It also means that the cosmology and local knowledge of the people are constructed in order to remain the power relation on the natural resources management. This program was promoted by the NGOs. the comanagement project solve the problem on Salmon resources by included all representative from local. China and Burma are still not a members of the Mekong River Commission. even it is the international river shared by 6 countries and 60 million people.

still the Mekong States still contain their own .10 focus on only economic integration facilitation. Development project also flowing around the world in the new forms of assistant and investment. focus on economic integration. We can found that the regionalism and regionalization in Mekong Countries. with the European Union. It means that the institution were supported by the ADB program has the agenda only on free market mechanism. Especially the distrustfulness of the government in the Mekong Subregion still remains the problem in the countries. Before the globalization project play the important role around the world. many socialist and former socialist countries enacted the policy to “open door” of the countries. the global was changed to be a new form and it was called “Globalization”. Oehlers argue that the Mekong Sub-Region. Then the market economy penetrated to every countries. especially the communication technologies (McMicheal: 2004). even use the idea of geographical proximity to integrate the region into economic cooperation region. because its geographical proximity does not remain the same economic and political structure. which was underpinned by ADB program. in terms of political and economic integration. whatever those countries were governed by socialist or democracy systems. They are still not included the people‟s participation to the decision making of the development project in this basin. The idea and practice of regionalization in Mekong Subregion are difference. The global project was created by technology development. Topic 4: A Case Study of Mekong Riparian Community Mekong Development Program and Dam Construction In 1990. The background of the Mekong Regionalization is not alike the regionalization in Europe. which remain different process of regionalization quite explicit unity. but its process differ from the European Regionalism in the process of political integration.

which emphasize only in economic cooperation. The growth of infrastructure the development in the Mekong Countries are increasing parallel with social and environmental degradation affected to the people‟s livelihood in the rage of the “winner” and “looser” in development project. The floor of the capital. labor and cultures also come to this region. technology. The concerns of the scholars are related to the different of the political. The regionalization is the process that formed the group of the proximity countries to cooperate on economic. Then there are many economic development project flew around the Mekong Subregion. Soavapa argue that the Mekong Regionalization add the word “sub” in the program. And the GMS program will create advantage in political conflict solution. The development project in the Mekong Subregion emerged since the cold war period. In another perspective. the members remain the different situation of economic. The civil society also established the network to monitor and inspect the economic activities in the Mekong Subregion (Hirsch: 2002). cultural and economic issues in development context of the Mekong Subregion. the Mekong Power Grid scheme. The regionalization process aim to solute the poverty in the region and the vision of free market connection is only one way that was underpinned by the program. The core process of the GMS program is the idea of Neo-Liberalism. especially.11 sovereignty especially national security. which come with the globalization dispersing around the world. because it does not integrate to be a unity or union. cultural and social security. disputation. the Mekong Subregion cooperation not just bring advantage to the region in economic cooperation. the market oriented program in the Mekong Region commenced to focus in production activities which run by the market mediated exchange and trade (2006). But in the Mekong Subregion. On other hand. so the institution framework just focuses on economic cooperation. economic cooperation for the member states (Soavapa: 2008). because the economic cooperation engage in market economic and overlook to the social and environmental issue. cultural and social securities in the region. North-South Economic Corridor and East-West Economic Corridor was . regionalization is the a consequence of globalization and vis-à-vis. The way of Development in Mekong River Subregion is growing significantly. So.

The U. The barrier of energy development still remain in the region because of the regional politics does not support the cooperation on the project. In the Cold War or Vietnam War (1959– 1975). T. F.12 promoted by the intergovernmental organization.S. especially. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is one key actor always assist the GMS program open the countries for the development project from Japan (which is the biggest state holder of the ADB). The regional market development projects were engaged by two key state actors in the region are China and Thai. which were supported by the United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and For East (ECFE) to shape the flooding in the Mekong River (Molle.. and Floch. I found that the U. the national electric departments in Thailand and Laos trying to operate the hydropower dam construction in the region. Both countries try to occupying the other Mekong Member for their investment expansion (Yoavapa: 2008). Army advise Thailand in development program. Especially Pha Mong and Strung Treng Dams. with hope to win over the war the U.S. P: 2009) . Then the role of development project was raised in the region in order to establish the basic infrastructure to facilitate the market in the region. Army plan the huge dam in the Mekong River in order to help the Mekong Countries build capacity of electricity generation. For example in energy development program especially Mekong Power Grid Scheme. Thailand and China always support the infrastructure development to facilitate their investments. In the binaural governmental cooperation between Thailand and United Stated Army. The development project fund and assistance was interested by many developed countries and IFIs. this army set the headquarters in Thailand to store the arms and bomb. Army come to fighting with the Communist Movement.S. Yu suggest the Mekong Governments solute the political understanding to cooperate the energy development and energy integration in the region (Yu: 2003). energy development project and facilitate investment in the region. Then there are a lot of new road construction. Ban Koum Hydropower Wier Proposed Project in the Mekong Mainstream River Plans to dam the Mekong mainstream are not new. Foran.

a Ship Elevator and Fish Ladder located beside the dam. Tumbon Huay Pai. Khong Chiam District. because the dam will block fish migration. proving detrimental – it will affect the Thailand and Laos boundary (Public Hearing: Ubonratchathani Civil Societies and Ban Kum Hydropower Dam: 2008). as of 3 September 2008). running the length of the 110 kilometers along the river from Khong Chiam District to Khem Ma Rat District. Luang Prabang Hydropower Dam (Laos). There will be a negative impact on fishery on the river mainstream and the tributaries in the upstream of the dam. The project budget is about 120.and flood 3 villages on the Laos side. The Ban Kum Hydropower Dam impacts are the following: the reservoir will flood 98. . The reservoir can store water filling 2.175 MW (Thailand-Laos border).91 Million USD. The reservoir will flood 1 village on the Thai side .Kun Tha Kwian village . In an Initial Environmental Study.806 rai of the river bank. Pha Mong Hydropower Dam (Thai-Laos border). including areas which the people use to cultivate crops. Ubonratchathani Province.13 In 2005. Ban Kum Hydropower Dam 2. Pak Beang Hydropower Dam (Laos) and Sambor Hydropower Dam (Cambodia). and installed is a 1. March 2008 edition show that “Ban Kum Hydropower Dam will be located near Ban Tha Long village. the Department of Alternative Energy and Energy Conservation.111 million cubic meters. the water level and rate of water flow in the downstream of the dam. The result of the feasibility study proposed 7 hydropower dams that could provide benefits for engineering and economy: Nam Khon Fall Hydropower Dam (Laos).330 Million Baht (about 353. Xayyaburi Hydropower Dam (Laos). The model dam is a run-off river dam with 22 gates.872 MW generator with a capacity of 375 MW (20% of generator capacity). Ministry of Energy employed Panya Consultant Company Limited and Mahanakorn Consultant Company Limited to conduct a feasibility study of the Mainstream Dam Competition in Mekong River.

Such as Tha Chang. 1). and the knowledge of how to these resources was for a long time passed from generation to generation to educate the people. Phou Khang Kob. 4). 2). Pha Kon Voi. Huay/Hong (stream): The streams flow from the mountain to the Mekong River. 2).14 Mekong Ecosystem: Knowledge and Rights under the Border and Development Contexts Ban Khun Tha Kwian is a community located at the closure of the Mekong River.” because elephants used to come from the Laos side and cross the Mekong River into the Donnatham Forest. For Example. Sean Phan. Around this shale cliff today there are many orchards. 3). Ba (the rocky land): This ecosystem is characterized by rocky areas mixed with a little bit of soil. The people in Ban Khun Tha Kwian still survive by the natural resources in the Mekong River. Kok/Teenphou (the land and the foot hill along the riverbank): the people hunt the animal in this area. This community is interesting because the all people living along the Mekong River never separate from each other. Phou Pha Deang. But now it is used as a cattle grazing area. Phou Lon and Phou Kong Khoa. The results of our research found that the villagers classify the Mekong River‟s ecosystem to include the following 11 categories: 1). even across the border of nation-states. Tha/Saen (Riverbank): There is abundant soil and sand along the Mekong river. including cashew. For . find wild produce. Ba Bok Kung: In the past there was a hole called “Bok Kung” and the villagers liked to bathe at this hole. Phou/Pha (the mountains and cliffs): The mountain is the highest ecosystem in the area. Ba Nam Tiang: In the past there was a hole called “Bok Nam Tiang”. Tha Chang: The word Tha means “waterside” and the word Chang means “elephant. Saen Luang. Phou Jom Kom and In Laos side the villagers know the name of the mountain included Phou Phaeng Ma. The people on both sides have the same ethnicity and kinship. banana tree and cassava. and fish. Sean Yor. There are at least 17 streams such as Huay Sao Khae Huay Nam Sai Huay Don etc. also marking the border between Laos and Thailand. 5). The villagers from Ban Pak La Village used to go to the waterside to do their riverbank cultivation.

7). This ecosystem‟s name comes from a past incident. On the this rapid itself use to catch fish by fishing net in the rainy season. 8). Such as . The villagers used to grow tobacco for themselves on this island. 9). there is a sand side used to grow the riverbank cultivation plants. when the rocks around them separate from the mainstream of the river. Bung (pond): Ponds occur in the dry season (October-April). This area is used for fishing with nets and finding snails. Khun/Khon (Rapids): These are the rapids formed along the riverbank. Keang: These are rapids in the middle of the Mekong river and can cause the river to flow in a circular way called Khun. which is suitable for cultivating plants. Don (island): the villagers describe the islands as “the land located in the river. Such as Don Bung Ya: This island is close to the Bung Ya ecosystem. The house raft would flow from upstream and stop at this area so that the people from other villages such as Ban Na Pho Krang Village and Ban Nam Thaeng Village could come to fish in this area. surrounded by water. Thum (cave): The caves emerge during the dry season (March-April). In the dry season. There is a sandy side called Haad Bung Ya. Such as Bung Phae Yai and Bung Phae Noi: This ecosystem is near the ecosystem called Khun. as they are located in the rapids and rocks of the river that are submerged during the rainy season.. Huay Sao Khae: The word Sao Khae means “young female crocodile”. next to the rear side of the rapids. This stream bears this name because in the stream there is a shale rock shaped like a crocodile with a female head. or by scoop fish and string hook in the dry season. extending out to the middle of the Mekong River. 6). the people used to tie the golden boats and silver boats to that tree and it broken nearby the rapids. which breaks in this area and falls down to the river.15 instance. Khun Tha Earn etc. The name of this ecosystem comes from the tree called Kok Yang. There is also a big tree called Yang Kood that because in the past. Such as Khun Bung Phae. 10). For example Keang Yang Kood: Keang Yang Kood are rapids close to the rapids called Khun Bung Phae. The word for “raft” in the local language is Phae. mixed with a small amount of soil on the rapids. there is sand around the rapids. but it is not suitable for cultivating any plants. so the villagers call it Don Bung Ya. In the dry season. This stream appropriates to fishing by hook and net and the waterside for the villager‟s cattle.

In the dry season there is only one Wern Yai. The Folk Story of Love on Mekong Mainstream1 as Mode of Ecological Analysis A long time ago. The word Sae in the local language means “flow to stop automatically”. The parents were afraid that the enemy would hear their daughter‟s voice. Sumali had a lover named Phoummarin. The ecosystem of the Wern is more diverse and abundant than any other river channel. When her parents came back. at Ban Khun Tha Kwain on the Lao side. Because the power of love is unlimited. who was Sumali‟s mother. who was the son of the family of Mr. who lived in a cave on the mountain called Phou Jom Kom at Ban Khun Tha Kwian on the Thai side. When the villagers travel. did not allow her daughter to meet Phoummarin. . 1 This story was named by the monk. Phoummarin appointed to meet his girlfriend at the rapids called Khun Malor in the dry season. 11) Wern: This ecosystem is within the mainstream river. so they put their daughter in a big hole. there was a family in which the father was named Thao Sing Korn and the mother was named Nang Prayom. who is a teller of this story. prohibited them to love each other. which the villagers now call Bok Sao Keow. The villagers believe that it is true story. they felt amazing because their daughter was still alive. and they escaped to hide themselves in a different area. and refused to let them get married. This family had two daughters named Nang Sumali and Nang Sirin. they like to stop at the Thum Sae before walking to the Lao side. Her parents held her as they escaped from the enemy. Back to the story: Nang Payom. and she cried and made noise. Nang Keow was a villager who had escaped from the war when she and her family lived around the mountain in the past. Salai and Nang Keow.16 Thum Sae: Boats often follow the river channel and stop at this cave in the dry season.

When her mother was out of sight. Sumali‟s mother followed her daughter to the riverbank. The log stopped at the rapids and the villagers now call it Don Ma Khang which means “stop at the area”. she could not find any boats at that riverbank. But they became tired. She decided to hold onto a log that flowed from the upstream and swim to Phoummarin. about three kilometers from where the two lovers drowned. he decided to jump into the river and swim against the river flow to his girlfriend. Phoummarin waited for Sumali for a long time. so the rapids are called Khun Tha Earn. Sumali saw her mother rowing toward her and she was afraid her mother would punish her. Both lovers swam to each other. she swam faster. Sumali‟s mother then got into a boat and rowed to her daughter. She was scared that her mother would come back home and see her at the rapids. At that moment. but he did not hear her voice because he was asleep. They found the bodies of the lovers hugging each other on the sandy side of the riverbank. and the sunlight was so strong it caused him to tire and fall sleep at Khun Malor. Both families grieved and looked for their children for three days. so she decided to release the log and swim to Phoummarin. until they slipped under the Mekong River. she ran all the way to the riverbank and looked for the boat to meet Phoummarin. Phoummarin got up and saw his girlfriend swimming to him. Sumali‟s mother sat on the boat and watched Sumali and her boyfriend drowning in the water. and when Sumali saw her mother. hugging. When Phoummarin saw his girlfriend swimming to him. and then they swam hand in hand. While Sumali was calling her boyfriend. aiming to reach her boyfriend. The word for “call out” in the local language is “earn”. her mother came back to the house and heard her daughter calling her boyfriend: “Phoumarin! Phoumarin! Phoumarin!” She called out many times. Sumali did not see his boat and decided to call out to Phommarin. getting closer and closer to Sumali.17 Sumali waited for her mother to go to her riverbank cultivation. Unfortunately. and their energy fell lower and lower. but there was no answer from her boyfriend. . The dead bodies emerged at the riverbank called Wern Lan.

still could not stop crying and grieving. Sirin. Phayom and her second daughter. especially at the crucial water flow in dry season). The fishing gear demonstrates their knowledge of catching fish by themselves and depending on the Mekong River for generation after generation. These types are: Mong Lao (used to fish by following the river flow). Three years after the incident. . Sirin was caught by a tiger on the way go to meet her sister. Mong Pern (used for catching fish at the water face on dry season). Along the path. my son”. Every day she went to the mountain and called for her son. which is made from nylon or plastic thread. Everyday they went to visit her daughter at the grave. Fishing gear is one example of how the villagers were the masters of the natural resources before the nation-state line was established by the western world during modern times. Con Voi Con Voi means “my son. Keow. and used to throw on the riverbank and the sandy side in the dry season. Phoummarin‟s body was kept at Phou Jom Kom. The research found that the villagers in Ban Khun Tha Kwian village have many kinds of fishing gear. so they have the knowledge to use natural resources as tools. The Fishing Gears The villagers interact for a long time in their life.18 After that. there were many wild animals. who was Phoumarin‟s mother. each family took their child separately to do a funeral on each side of the river. until the present. Sumali‟s body was kept at Phou Long (the word long means “coffin”). half a kilometer from Wern Lan. Mong Yang (used for fishing at the Keang ecosystem. and unfortunately. Mong Priw (used to fish by tying it in the rapids and throwing it to follow the river‟s flow in dry season) and Mong Tang (used for fishing in stable water areas such as seasonal ponds in the dry season). Mong: This fishing gear is a net made by plastic thread. still grieved and missed Sumali. There are five kinds of Mong. bought from the market in the district. depending on the fishing side and the fishing season. so that mountain was named Phou Kon Voi. including: Hae: This fishing gear is a net.

The villagers use it to scoop the fish in the dry season.19 Bed (Hook): In the local language. especially at Keang Hoo Zun. The Use of Mekong River Ecosystems The different ecosystems in the river inspire the need for different tools and the invention of methods to enjoy various benefits from each ecosystem. mushrooms. Bung Phae. because of the large reduction in the number of fish. which has a carpenter who can build boats. The design of the boats is similar to the boats in Moon River. but that does not mean they don‟t get any benefit from other methods or sources. The villagers‟ main income is from fishing and riverbank cultivation during the dry season. Chon/Dang Tak: This fishing gear made from bamboo in the forest and thread. natural herbs and wild animals. Hua (Boat): The boats in the Mekong River are bought from Ban Thung Na Muang Village. Briefly. Zai: This fishing trap is made from bamboo and used to fish at the streams. . their many uses of natural resources in Ban Kun Tha Kwian village are catalogued as follows: Natural Products 1) Wild products such as bamboo shoots. and it is used to scoop small fish. shrimp and freshwater crickets in the pond or stream. and Keang Poon from May to August. Sa-Wing: This fishing gear is made from climbers in the community forest. 3) Bed Puek Loi: Made for string fishing in the dry season. Almost all of the wild products can found in the ecosystem known as Kok as well as on the mountains. a hook is called bed. Now they use three kinds of hooks: 1) Bed Khun: Made with bamboo and used along the riverbank. The heads of boats in the Mekong River are triangle-shaped. Bed Harm and Bed Nam Tao. 2) Bed Puek Jom: Made for string fishing in the rainy season. The villagers have already stopped using two kinds of hooks. The fish get from this trap use to make lure in the Mekong River.

They grow the rice in the rainy season and harvest it in October. Natural Vegetables: In my research. 2). The rice they grow is not enough to last all year.” During the festival. bananas and cassava. 3). season. 3). and soy. and Haad Malor for Songkran festival (Thai New Year) every year. Fisheries: They can go fishing year-round by employing different methods and fishing gear according to the ecosystem. and fish species. among others. corn. Three days before the festival day the men in the village go to select bamboo in the community forest together and bring it to the Mekong riverbank and make it into a “Lamp Boat. Pra Sungwan. Energy: The villagers use the wood from dead trees from the forest and riverbank for firewood and use it for cooking food and everyday life tasks that require heat. Paddy field: A few families in this village have paddy fields. Plantations: Along the riverbanks they grow many plants such as cashews. a monk of the community temple said that “Because the people in the village use the river for survival for a whole year. The crops are cotton. Ceremonies and Belief Ceremonies and Festivals: The villagers use the two docks of Tha Baan to set up Lai Rua Fai (Flow Fireboat). sweet potato. sometimes they do something bad in the river and the . 4). most people in the village come together in the evening. I found that villagers are able to get about 20 natural vegetables and 7 natural herbs from the ecosystem within the mainstream of the Mekong. Loi Krathong festival. The monks pray and apologize to the river for having to use in everyday life. so they have to bring other products and exchange them for rice with other communities on both the Thai and Lao sides of the river. For example Lai Rua Fai or Fireboat ceremony and festival was set on the Out Buddhist Lent Day. Agricultures 1). black bean. These plants are grown for economic purposes and are sold to the middle men.20 2). Riverbank cultivation: This cultivation can be planted in October and harvested in March and April.

Some fishing site in Kaeng ecosystem was preserve for common rights. From the history until now.21 spirits in the river are dissatisfied with the people‟s behavior. For the sand bar (Haard) in the dry season. In terms of ethnicity. the village far from the riparian around 5 kilometers. revolution. because of sand bar in the early dry season (October) can be cultivated the cotton and corn. the people can inherit the land to their children and can sell to others. the border is very flexible. because the border concept in the neoliberal globalization period. the people still cross the river to visit their relatives and friends. the Mekong River resources remain vaguely form of power control over the resources.” Access Rights in the Mekong Ecosystems The Rights systems in the Mekong are very complex and fluid. They have the collective history of resettlement. trade. The rights system was . This festival set up for apologize the river spirits including Naga and Garuda. Such as in Lao revolution period (1972). In sum. As long as one person uses that fishing site. because they did not have any certain rules to determine the access rights on the river. parents and so on. In sum. he still has rights on that fishing site call “usufruct rights”. the rights system in the Mekong Mainstream River is very complex and dynamic. Both countries agree to demarcate the borderline at the channel of the river. Both Thailand and Laos states have rights of state sovereignty to control over their territories. there are the rights on the ecosystem such as the fishing site (Luang Pla) was inherited from their parents. exchange and so on. war. so this land can be sell without the legal rights from the state. sold the sand bar cultivated land to the villagers in Ban Khun Tha Kwain. was employ to gain benefit from trade and exchange. In the border area. those people in Thailand and Laos sides can access to this Kaeng (rapids) as “common rights”. the villagers in both sides are brothers and sisters. The rights to access each ecosystem in the Mekong River around the village also were determined by these social relations. In practice. the people from Na Pho Klang Village.

because they can accumulate more from the river‟s hydropower rather than catch the fish. The development projects are funding by the assistant of ADB and MRC‟s facilitation. the value of river in state and investor‟s eye is in form of “Megawatt” rather than the resource in the water. In the same time the state commence to cite to the rights of state on the river. especially China waking up with the economic boom influence in the global level. the vague definition of sustainable development discourse also was seized to employ to support the dam construction. the local knowledge and rights still in the powerless position in intergovernmental cooperation. What the state seeing on the river? Water is for the national benefit and it should support the modernity of the state. because it was embedded to the rational of non-fuel energy as alternative energy. . That means the regionalization in this region focuses mostly on the economic proportion rather than the human security and environmental sustainability. even they see things in the water. The Mekong States and companies in the one market idea in the region trying to gain benefit from the trade and exchange. Dam construction is one of the symbols of capitalism in neoliberal globalization period and exclusive power of states on natural resources by excluded the participation from bottom-up decision making process. Both counties construct themselves as the investor in the region.22 controlled by the social relation and customs. cultivation and cultures and beliefs in the Mekong River. In terms of alternative energy. Thailand and China play the key roles to stimulate the economic cooperation in the region. In Discourse level. natural products. it is not important as “energy” and “investment”. the hydropower energy is not burn the carbon to the air and the river flow is not exhaust. This legitimacy support the states and private sectors cooperate to “commoditize” the river to benefit the investors and state as the national interest discourse. So. Conclusion In the situation of Mekong Regionalization included GMS Program and Mekong River Commission and ASEAN Community in the future.

fishes and natural products as economic value. My argument here is to improve the governance in the Mekong River Basin. They organize the riparian community to contest the dam meaning by the villagers‟ research. I found that the dam construction not just destroy the physical value of the ecosystems. In order to contest the dam construction. . For the Mekong Situation in the present neoliberal globalization. They monitor the role of the Mekong State by organized the people to challenge the dam construction in the Mekong Mainstream River as the environmental degradation. this is the new idea was brought from outside. we have to raise the power of the people and this power need to come from the knowledge based on the locals that is local knowledge and rights. the networking of the people also is very important to questioning and moving forward to share/fight/negotiate the state‟s power . cultures and rights of locals by excluded the local people from river resources access. To claim the power.23 The NGOs also criticize the dam construction in the mainstream river and its tributary. Then the challenge is the dam construction just not discloses the clear information to the local people. The people use and utilize the river resources for their economic income. And now Pak Mun Thai Baan Research is the new paradigm of power that was upraised by the local people to other places‟ movement inside and outside the Mekong Region and I would called this Thai Baan Research as “Pak Mun Consensus”. subsistence and accumulate for their economic reason. the NGOs and the Civil Society Organization just not campaign for oppose the dam construction only. ecological change and impacts on fisheries as the main protein sources for the people in the region. It also destroys the sources of knowledge. not the campaign by in the representative roles by the NGOs. David Biggs argued that the Mekong facing the dam as a big machine from the modernizer to do “meta-commoditization of the river (Biggs: 2008). The local people is not really focus on the river for conservation or species amount concerns.

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