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Lower Sesan 2 Dam

Same Company, Two Dams, One River:
Using Hydrolancang’s China Domestic Practice to
Mainstream Biodiversity, Fisheries and Livelihood
Protection in the Lower Sesan 2 Dam Project
Iris Yaxin Ren
Feburary 2015

Table of Contents
1. Executive Summary.............................................................................................................................................4
Project Case Studies’ Introduction..........................................................................................................................................4
Research Methodology.............................................................................................................................................................4
Summary of Key Findings .......................................................................................................................................................5
2. Manwan and Nuozhadu Dams............................................................................................................................8
2.1 Environmental Impacts......................................................................................................................................................8
Habitats Inundation.....................................................................................................................................................8
Hydrology, Water Temperature and Sedimentation................................................................................................8
Fisheries.........................................................................................................................................................................8
2.2 Hydrolancang’s Practices in Managing Impacts on Biodiversity and Fisheries.........................................................9
Manwan.........................................................................................................................................................................9
Nuozhadu.......................................................................................................................................................................9
2.3 Hydrolancang’s Environmental Practices in Other Lancang Dams...........................................................................10
2.4 Impacts on livelihoods from Manwan and Nuozhadu Dams......................................................................................10
Manwan.......................................................................................................................................................................10
Nuozhadu..................................................................................................................................................................... 10
Impacts on Downstream Communities in the Lancang Basin.............................................................................10
2.5 Hydrolancang’s Practices in Managing Impacts of Local Livelihoods........................................................................11
Manwan........................................................................................................................................................................11
Nuozhadu......................................................................................................................................................................11
2.6 What Prompted Changes in Hydrolancang’s Practice?................................................................................................13
Improvements in the Law.......................................................................................................................................... 13
Increasing Environmental and Social Scrutiny from the NGOs, the Public and the Media.............................14
Additional Factors...................................................................................................................................................... 14
3 Lower Sesan 2 Dam Project............................................................................................................................... 16
3.1 Mitigation Measures for Biodiversity and Fishery Impacts.........................................................................................16
Biodiversity and Fishery Impacts............................................................................................................................. 16
Mitigation Measures................................................................................................................................................... 16
3.2 Livelihoods Impacts and Mitigation Measures............................................................................................................. 16
Impacts on Livelihoods.............................................................................................................................................. 16
Compensations and Livelihoods Support................................................................................................................20
3.3 Comparison Summary......................................................................................................................................................23
4 Key Findings......................................................................................................................................................28
4.1 Comparison of Environmental Impacts Mitigation Measures Between Projects in China and Cambodia.......... 28
4.2 Comparison of the Social Impact Mitigation Measures Between Projects in China and Cambodia.................... 28
4.3 Responsiveness to Civil Society and NGO Concerns: Hydrolancang....................................................................... 29
4.4 Lessons Learned . ............................................................................................................................................................ 30

1. Executive Summary
China’s enthusiasm for dam building has in recent years spilled
over into the Mekong region. Development plans and construction
for a 28 dam cascade on the Upper Mekong (Lancang River)
have been underway for over 20 years, which have fundamentally
altered the entire Mekong River Basin. However, more recent has
been the emergence of Chinese state-owned enterprises active
in dam building in China taking a leading role in hydropower
development of the Lower Mekong River Basin as project
developers with the support of China’s “going-out” policy. In line
with this trend, Hydrolancang – responsible for constructing no
less than 7 dams on the Upper Mekong – began construction in
2013 on its first overseas hydropower project, the Lower Sesan 2
Dam Project in Cambodia.
Dams in the Mekong Basin have been controversial for a
number of reasons: impact on fisheries, fragmentation of the
globally unique freshwater ecosystems, a poor track record on
environmental and social impact mitigation, and downstream
transboundary impacts. Many of these factors are of concern in
the Lower Sesan 2 Dam Project and for these reasons the project
has been amongst the most controversial and destructive projects
to be developed in recent years.
In this report, three dams have been compared in the Mekong
River Basin to contrast and compare efforts in environmental
and social impact mitigation. The three projects examined are
Manwan Dam (phase 1 completed in 1995 and phase 2 completed
in 2007, Lancang River, China), Nuozhadu Dam (completed 2014,
Lancang River, China), and Lower Sesan 2 (Under Construction,
Sesan River, Cambodia). Through fieldwork and literature review
(both Chinese and English), we have sought to better understand
and analyze the standards adopted by Hydrolancang in its
domestic work in China and in overseas contexts as a co-project
developer in Cambodia.

Project Case Studies: Introduction
The 400 megawatt Lower Sesan 2 Dam is located on the Sesan
River in Sesan District, Stung Treng Province, 1.5 kilometers
downstream from the confluence of the Srepok and Sesan Rivers
in Cambodia. The project, valued at 816 million USD, was first
approved by Cambodia’s Cabinet in November 2012. In February
2013, Cambodia’s National Assembly approved the project’s
overseas financing, effectively giving the project the green light.
The Lower Sesan 2 Dam is a joint venture between Cambodia’s
Royal Group (49 percent share) and Hydrolancang International
Energy Co., Ltd (51 percent share). A number of studies have
identified significant and far-reaching social and environmental
impacts if the Lower Sesan 2 Dam goes ahead as proposed].
Hydrolancang, the Chinese state-owned enterprise developing the
Lower Sesan 2 Project, is also the main hydropower developer on
the Upper Mekong River, known as the Lancang River in China.
The company is owned by one of the largest electricity generation
companies in China, Huaneng Corporation.
The Manwan Dam (1550 MW) was the first dam built on the Lancang
River and started operation in 1995.The Nuozhadu Dam structure

4

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

(5850MW) was completed in 2012, with the last of the nine turbines
installed and starting operation in June 2014. Both dams are part of
the Lancang Dam cascade being built by Hydrolancang. Over a period
of almost twenty years, Hydrolancang has undertaken a range of social
and environmental impact mitigation strategies for the Manwan
and Nuozhadu Dams, largely in response to increased scrutiny of
the impacts of large dams in China. When construction of Manwan
Dam began in 1986, minimal mitigation strategies were undertaken,
and limited environmental and social impact information was made
available ahead of construction. In comparison, multiple and more
effective mitigations measures were carried out at the Nuozhadu Dam.
The company had became more experienced in managing social and
environmental risks, but there was greater public pressure on the
company as a result of NGO advocacy and media scrutiny.

Research Methodology
Several methods were employed to collect information for this
study. We conducted a literature review the on the impacts on
biodiversity, fisheries and local communities by the Manwan
Dam, the Nuozhadu Dam, and the Lower Sesan 2 Dam (as
this project is not completed, our research scope was limited
to expected impacts). For the Lancang Dams, to establish
the company’s practice in social and environmental impact
mitigation, we collected primary information using field research
on Hydrolancang’s efforts to mitigate the impacts (biodiversity
protection, fisheries, resettlement) from the two Upper Mekong
dams, on the results of the measures, and evidence of its successes
and failures.
As Lower Sesan 2 Dam is currently under construction and the
resettlement process is still underway, we relied on fieldwork to
assess the level of social impact and post-resettlement support and
livelihood restoration needs. We conducted three field trips to the
Lower Sesan 2 Dam’s project site to gather data using community
interviews and conduct site investigations. In total, fourteen
villages were visited, including three villages downstream from the
dam (Ban Mai village, Kampun village and Phluk village), seven
villages in the proposed reservoir area (Chrab, Kbal Romeas, Srae
Sranok, Srae kor 1, Srae kor 2, Khsach Thmei, Krabei Chrum), and
six villages upstream of the reservoir (Hat Pak village, Veun Hay,
Phlueu Touch, Tumpuou Reung, Ke Kuong Leu, and Lumphat).
In total forty-nine community interviews were conducted for
the purposes of this report. The interviews were conducted in
Khmer with assistance from local community facilitators to
translate locally spoken languages into Khmer. A predetermined
questionnaire (Annex 1) was used in each interview.
Finally, we compared and contrasted the Lower Sesan 2 Dam’s
expected impacts on biodiversity, fisheries and local communities
with the two Lancang dams. During the research period, we
contacted the dam developer Hydrolancang twice to request
meetings and additional project information for all three projects,
but did not receive any response.

Summary of Key Findings
Comparison of Hydrolancang Project’s Environmental Impacts Mitigation Measures
-

Lower Sesan 2’s environmental protection measures budget is less than 2% of what was included for
Nuozhadu Dam.

-

Hydrolancang adopted various measures to mitigate the biodiversity and fisheries impacts of
Nuozhadu, such as relocating endangered and important tree species to botanic gardens, establishing
wildlife aid center, redesigning the water intake gate to address water temperature changes, and
restocking fisheries in the reservoir. The effectiveness of these measures is very limited to the reservoir
area, compared to the project’s significant downstream and upstream impacts.

-

Hydrolancang does not have a good track record in hydrological and sedimentation management in
China.

-

Hydrolancang has cancelled or redesigned dams for environmental protection purposes on the Upper
Mekong.

-

Lower Sesan 2 Dam’s Project Developers’ have yet to publicly adopt or commit to any concrete
measures to mitigate the impacts of Lower Sesan 2 Dam on freshwater and terrestrial biodiversity.

Comparison of Hydrolancang Project’s Social Impact Mitigation Measures
-

The 2006 Chinese resettlement regulations were critical in improving the amount of resettlement
compensation and the level of post-resettlement support for Nuozhadu Dam. In Cambodia, the lack
of national resettlement laws means that the company and government have determined resettlement
compensation and livelihood restoration in an ad-hoc way, and focused only on the reservoir and
inundation area.

-

The compensation package currently offered to affected people by Lower Sesan 2 is only 23% of
Nuozhadu’s resettlement budget on a per person basis.

-

Hydrolancang adopted the principle of maintaining the same living standards post resettlement in
Nuozhadu Dam. No livelihood restoration objective has been adopted for the affected people of Lower
Sesan 2.

-

Post resettlement measures in the Nuozhadu Dam included long-term compensation payments for the
duration of the operation of the hydropower project, livelihood development subsidies, and discounted
loans to support the building of new dwellings. In addition, Hydrolancang has funded public works,
purchases of agricultural animals and plantation trees, and training projects to develop aquaculture
skills. Lower Sesan 2’s Project Developers has not yet publicly committed to livelihood support for
affected communities by Lower Sesan 2 Dam.

Company’s Responsiveness to Civil Society and NGO concerns
-

Hydrolancang’s project Manwan Dam in China has been the center of public scrutiny due to their
association with very poor resettlement practice. However, the company has only responded directly
to the government’s request for action, rather than concerns voiced by the affected communities and
NGOs.

-

Civil society in Cambodia had very little public reaction from Hydrolancang, despite sending invitations
to meetings and letters to the company. This has resulted in much frustration from the environmental
and social NGO community in Cambodia and has negatively impacted the international reputation of
the company.

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

5

Recommendations
The Lower Sesan 2 Project is the first overseas investment project undertaken by Hydrolancang. The
company has tended to rely on judgment of the Cambodia government and its local project partner, Royal
Group, particularly in the areas of resettlement and community relations management. Normally this tends to
be the case when Chinese State-Owned Enterprises invest abroad. Hydrolancang does not have experience
in managing the mitigation of significant environmental and social impacts, and has tended to trust its
project partners to do a good job.
The project developers should halt the project construction and turn their attention to resolving key
environmental and social issues. The project developers’ should develop and implement proper
compensation measures for biodiversity protection before the project’s impacts are irreversible. These
measures must extend beyond the reservoir area, and attend to the project’s significant upstream and
downstream impacts. As shown in contrasting the Manwan and Nuozhadu cases studies, compensation
measures for the loss of habitat, biodiversity or fishery have to be planned in advance and properly
budgeted, because compensation measures need to be implemented before the loss or threatens have
happened and usually require extra land and budget for implementation.
In the area of social impacts, the full scale of impacts must be properly acknowledged. People who have
only farmlands (not dwellings) inundated should be also counted in the resettlement plan. This is the
standard required by Chinese resettlement law and was the approach adopted in Nuozhadu. The Developers
should also conduct a proper impacts assessment on the cultural sites and resources including the spiritual
forests and ancestral burial lands, and develop compensation plan for the cultural losses. Such assessment
and compensation plan should extend beyond the resettlement villages and cover all the villages living
around the reservoir, downstream and upstream areas, whose cultural sites are subject to impacts from
construction, inundation and operation. Further, communities whose food security will be negatively
impacted must be supported. Livelihood restoration for all those impacted must also be addressed. The loss
of livelihoods due to the dam include loss of fishery, loss of agricultural lands, decreased productivity of new
farmland, loss of irrigation water, loss of income from tourism and boat transportation, loss of easy access
to forests, and loss of natural resources for livestock – all these losses should be evaluated and properly
compensated before the project moves forward. Lower Sesan 2’s Project Developers should develop a
detailed plan about how to support on the new livelihoods. The support should at least include monetary
compensation, technical training, and provision of resources for establishing new livelihoods, provided by
the Project Developers and the Cambodian government.

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SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

7

Hydrology, Water Temperature and Sedimentation

2. Manwan and
Nuozhadu Dams
Manwan Dam was the first dam built on the Lancang River. It
started operation in 1995 and was only fully completed in 2007.
Nuozhadu Dam was completed in 2012 and the last remaining
turbine started operation in June 2014. The detail information of
the two dams can be found in Table 1.

2.1 Environmental impacts
This section outlines the environmental impacts of the Lancang
Dam case studies, Manwan and Nuozhadu.

Habitat Inundation

The 23.6 square kilometer reservoir of Manwan Dam inundated
567 hectares of forest, 152 hectares of grassland and 415 hectares
of farmland. As a result, some bird species who are adapted to
low elevation and hot and dry valley climates have been observed
to move their habitats to downstream of the dams, such as
Coracias benghalensis, Picus chlorolophus, Garrulax pectoralis,
and Garrulax chinensis. Animals including the Black-Crested
Gibbon, Serow, Forest Musk Deer, Goral, and Sambar Deer were
forced to move from lower elevation areas to higher elevation
areas. The populations of Otter, Pangolin, Barking Deer, Forest
Musk Deer, and Sambar Deer have largely decreased near the
reservoir area due to ecosystem loss, while numbers of Yunnan
hare and mice have been largely increased.1 Land loss was also
not limited to inundation areas. Approximately 700 hectares of
forest and grassland areas were cleared to build houses, provide
new farmlands and construct water channels and roads for the
Manwan resettlement project.2 Another few hundred hectares
of forestland was cleared by the displaced people to offset the
lower productivity of new farmlands received in the resettlement
process.3,4
Habitat loss from Nuozhadu Dam was much bigger than Manwan
Dam. As the Environmental Impacts Assessment (EIA) Report
of Nuozhadu Dam estimated, due to the size of Nuozhadu dam’s
reservoir area of 320 square kilometers, resulting in the loss of a
215 kilometer long aquatic habitat, 17,994 hectares of forest, 5,816
hectares of farmland, and 2,613 hectares of gardens.

The Lancang Dams have impacted hydrological conditions, water
temperatures and sedimentation downstream in the Mekong
River as far as Cambodia and with sediment impacts as far as
Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. Studies have confirmed that the wet
season flow will decrease, while the dry season flow will increase
because of the operation of the Lower Lancang Cascade. In the
wet season, the flow at Chiang Saen decreases by up to 30 percent
and is caused by the Lancang Dams holding back water flow to
fill storage and regulation reservoirs. Chapman and He Daming
reported that during the mean dry season the flow at the triborder area (China, Laos and Myanmar) can increase by as much
as 170 percent with Nuozhadu regulating the flow of water for
hydropower production.5
The Lancang River has been transformed into a series of
reservoirs, increasing the reservoir surface water temperature
during every month. The average temperature in Manwan in the
post-dam period was 4.8 degrees higher compared to the pre-dam
period.6 After Manwan started operation, the water temperature
at Jiuzhou and Yunjinghong stations showed an obvious positive
corresponding relationship, which means the Manwan Dam
caused water temperature changes as far as at Yunjinghong
station, 401 kilometers downstream.7 The temperature of water
discharged from the Nuozhadu dam will be 0.4 to 6.4 degrees
lower than the natural water temperature from March to
September and 0.6 to 5.3 degrees higher in October to February.
The average annual water temperature will drop 0.6 degrees and
the temperature of discharged water will reach to 16.3 degrees at
its lowest. As most local fish in Lancang River spawn from April
to August, the decreased water temperature and the enlarged
water temperature fluctuation will change the behaviors of the
fish species, impacting both their reproduction and migration
activities.
The sedimentation capture rate by the Manwan Dam has been
estimated in a range of 53 to 94 percent and the sedimentation
impacts from Manwan extend as far as to Vientiane.8 In the
first ten years of Manwan Dam’s operation, the annual mean
sediment trapped by the Manwan Dam was estimated to be about
35 percent of total sedimentation transported from Lancang
Basin to Lower Mekong. The theoretical trapping efficiency of
Nuozhadu Dam is estimated at 92 percent.9 With both dams
now operational, the cumulative impacts on sedimentation
withholding by the Lancang Dams is very significant.

Fisheries

With limited baseline information collected prior to the
hydropower development of the Lancang River, very limited
research exists about the specific impacts of each dam project.

Table 1: Manwan and Nuozhadu Dams on the Lancang River, Yunnan, China.
Dam Name
Manwan

Installed
Capacity (MW)

Dam Height
(m)

Total Storage
(km3)

Regulation
storage (km3)

Regulation
Type

Status

1550

126

0.92

0.26

Seasonal

Completed
(phase 1 in1995 and
phase 2 in 2007)

Nuozhadu
8

5850

261.5

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

22.7

11.3

Yearly

Completed (2012)

This section concentrates on the cumulative impact of fisheries
caused by the dam cascade on the Lower reaches of the Lancang
River, which include Nuozhadu and Manwan Dam.
Recent fish surveys10, 11, 12, 13, 14 have observed a reduction in
numbers of some fish species and great changes in fish species
composition in the Lancang River in Yunnan, as the result of the
formation of large reservoirs, and largely altered hydrological and
sedimentation schemes. Fish surveys15 conducted in 2009 and
2010 found that the number of fish species along the Lancang
River in Yunnan had reduced from 139 to 80, compared to
historic data. Another fish survey conducted from 2008 to 201316
was only able to capture 71 fish species, compared to 165 fish
species historically recorded in the middle and lower reaches
of the Lancang River. Fish species from Siluridae, Sisoridae,
Perciformes, Barbinae, Labeoninae, and Schizothoracinae groups
have greatly decreased. Dam construction has caused the loss of
habitats, reproduction areas and food sources for demersal fishes
(e.g. Labeoninae and Cobitidae), which are more adapted to fast
flow conditions, and the fish species which live in the middle and
bottom layers of flowing water, such as Siluridae, Sisoridae and
Barbinae. The number of big fishes such as Tor Gray, Bagarius,
and Bangana in the main stem river has decreased, while small
and medium sized fishes have become the dominant species.
The Lancang Dams have not only altered the number of fish
species that can be found, but also changed their composition.
Fifteen new native species and twelve kinds of alien fishes were
found after Manwan Dam was built. The introduction of alien
species (e.g. Neosalanx taihuensis, Carassius auratus auratus)
has led to the disappearance of some local fish species.17 The
introduced fish species, such as Oreochromis Mossambica, which
is commonly grown in commercial aquaculture, has become the
dominant species in the reservoir areas.18
Several fish species including Pangasius, Tor sinensis, Wallago
attu, Hemibagrus wychioides, have been found to migrate from
the Lower Mekong River to the upper Lancang River, and
forage and spawn in the Buyuan River.19 However, Ding and Ji
(2009) noted that after 1993, traces of four known long distance
migratory fish species have not been found.20 The timing coincides
with the construction of Manwan Dam.

2.2 Hydrolancang’s Practices in
Managing Impacts on Biodiversity
and Fisheries
Manwan

In 1984, the Kunming Survey, Design and Research Institute
(now known as PowerChina Kunming Engineering Corporation
Limited) designed the Manwan Dam, completed a report titled
Field Survey and Assessment Report of Biological Resources near
Manwan Dam Reservoir Area in Lancang River in Yunnan. In
1990, the same institute completed the Manwan Hydropower
Project Environmental Monitoring Station Design Report. These
are the only reports that can be found on the environmental
impacts of Manwan Dam, reflecting that at the time no
environmental impact assessments were required.
In 1993, Manwan Dam’s environmental monitoring station
was built and started monitoring water temperature, weather,

water quality, sediment deposit, aquatic species, terrestrial
species, and seismic activity.21 However, there is no publicly
available information to indicate that Hydrolancang has used
the monitoring data to develop measures to avoid, minimize,
mitigate or compensate for the adverse impacts on biodiversity
and fisheries caused by Manwan Dam. Hydrolancang’s total
investment in environmental protection efforts was only 58
million RMB (9.28 million USD), the lowest among the six built
dams on the Lancang River.

Nuozhadu

Nuozhadu Dam has been treated as a showcase project by
Hydrolancang to demonstrate its environmental protection
efforts in hydropower development. Compared with Manwan,
Hydrolancang made a big step forward in mitigating and
compensating for adverse environmental effects of the Nuozhadu
Dam project. Hydrolancang’s budget for environmental protection
in the Nuozhadu Dam was 790 million RMB22 (126 million
USD), almost 14 times the budget of Manwan Dam. The main
biodiversity and fisheries management measures adopted in the
Nuozhadu project included:
• Establishing a 6.6 hectare botanic garden for valuable and rare
plants. Eleven important plant species with state protection
classification were moved from the flooded reservoir area to
the garden, including the Cycas pectinata and Cycas balansae
species.23
• Adopting a stratified water intake with a stoplog gate design,
which was expected to increase water temperature by 2.8
degrees, compared to two-pipe design option.24 Hydrolancang
spent an additional 38 million USD in adopting the redesign.
However, a senior fish specialist from the Chinese Academy of
Fishery Sciences, Mr. Chen Daqing, said that while the stoplog
gate may help to increase the water temperature, it is not
very effective in managing the ecological impacts of lowered
water temperatures. Stratified water intake is only able to
increase the water temperature by 1 to 2 degrees, but a 5 to 6
degree increase is usually required in larger dams to mitigate
downstream impacts.25 There are two water temperature
monitoring stations in the Nuozhadu reservoir, but no public
data from the monitoring stations has been released.26
• Commencing a fish restocking program in June 2013. On
14 June 2013, Hydrolancang released 2.15 million juvenile
fish into the Nuozhadu reservoir, including 50,000 of local
fish wallago (Wallago attu), 100,000 of local fish silk tail
catfish (Mystus wyckioides), 1 million alien fish silver carp
(Hypophthalmichthys molitrix), and another 1 million
of alien fish bighead carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis).
Hydrolancang plans to invest 3.85 million RMB (625,000
USD) in 3 more fish releases between 2013 and 2015 releasing 350,000 local fishes and 6 million of introduced
fishes.27
• In 2008, Hydrolancang started to selectively trap and
transport fish over the dam, such as Tor (tor) sinensis,
Barbodes huangchuchieni, and Platytropius sinensis.28
• In order to protect fish habitats and rare and valuable fish
species, Hydrolancang plans to establish a fish reserve
downstream of Ganlan Dam and Nanla River, one of the
tributaries of Lancang River.29
Notwithstanding the above measures, the compensation measures
for terrestrial habitat rehabilitation are still too limited. Only
a 6.6 hectare botanic garden was created to offset 487 hectares

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

9

of inundated primary and secondary forests. The planning of
fish reserves is still under investigation, while six mega dams
have been completed by Hydrolancang on the Lancang River.
Mitigation measures, such as establishing fish reserves is
recommended before dams are built, because it is very difficult
to restock the local fish species once fisheries are negatively
impacted. Although the fish restocking program may help to
increase the overall amount of fish in the reservoir, it does so at
the cost of local fish species and expedites the introduction of
alien fish species. Both the fish release and the trap-and-transport
programs can only benefit a select few local fish species.

2.3 Hydrolancang’s Environmental
Practices in Other Lancang Dams
Hydrolancang has made efforts in other dam projects on the
Lancang River to avoid and minimize the adverse environmental
impacts. Gushui Dam’s height was reduced due to concerns over
flooding of a protected area in Tibet. Guonian Dam, originally
planned between the Gushui and Wunonglong Dams, was
cancelled because of its potential impacts on the Mingyong
Glacier. The water level of Wunonglong Dam was reduced to
avoid the impacts on the Three Parallel Rivers World Heritage
Area, which reduced the dam’s installed capacity.30 Mengsong
Dam, originally planned as the last dam on the Lancang River,
was canceled due to concerns over its negative impact on fish
migration.31

2.4 Impacts on livelihoods from
Manwan and Nuozhadu Dams
Manwan

The original resettlement population for the Manwan Dam
was underestimated at 3,513 people. By the end of Manwan
Dam Phase I, 7,260 people were officially affected.32 Due to
conservative estimations made in the planning process, the final
resettled population was double original estimates. As a strategy
to reduce the total resettlement population, only people whose
houses were inundated qualified for resettlement compensation.
Households who only had farmlands inundated were not included
in the official affected or resettlement population. The resettled
people not only lost their land, farmland, and easy access to
water resources, but also had to face serious problems with new
livelihood development and landslide risks.

built. Table 2 summarizes the reduction of the farmlands by type
after the construction of Manwan Dam. Resettled people were
not the only ones who lost land; host communities also had their
farmlands redistributed to accommodate the resettled people.33
The productivity of new farmlands given to the resettled people
in mountainous areas had only one fourth of the productivity
compared with the original farmlands. In the new farmlands on
the mountain slopes, farmers were faced with landslide risks and
suffered from a lack of access to irrigation water. The amount
of economic forest (plantations) around the Manwan reservoir
reduced by 28 percent after the dam was built.34 Affected people
also had difficulties raising cattle and collecting wood fuel because
a lot of lands were turned from forests into farmland. All of
these factors resulted in a deterioration in the living standards
of resettled people. According to the Yunnan Statistics Bureau’s
survey, the annual income per capita of the resettled people
in 1996 was 64 percent lower than the provincial average. In
previous surveys completed before the dam was built, the resettled
peoples’ incomes were 64 percent higher than the provincial
average.35

Nuozhadu

The resettlement population of Nuozhadu Dam was 48,429
people, 14,364 of which lived in the reservoir area. Those resettled
came from 81 villages in 9 counties, and 3 townships. The
reservoir inundated 495,402 square meters of houses. Unlike
Manwan Dam, the people whose houses are not inundated but
farmlands were affected were also counted in the resettlement
population. However, the resettlement plan seems to have been
slowly implemented.37 As of September 2014, only 40 percent
of the resettlement people in Puer City were resettled, while
Nuozhadu Dam has been in full operation since June 2014.

Impacts on Downstream Communities
in the Lancang Basin

The social impacts of Manwan and Nuozhadu Dams extended to
communities living along downstream Mekong River. Changes
in hydrology, fisheries and sedimentation caused by the dams
have extensive and more significant impacts on millions of
people downstream who rely directly on the river for their food
and livelihoods. Despite observable transboundary impacts
from Manwan Dam, no transboundary impact assessment
was conducted during the planning and design stages of
Nuozhadu Dam. No compensation has ever been given to
downstream communities in the Lower Mekong countries for the
transboundary impacts of these projects.

Around the Manwan Dam reservoir area, the average farmland
area per capita reduced by 386 square meters after the dam was

Table 2: Land Use Before and After the Construction of Manwan Dam36

10

Farmland

Loss
(ha)

Compensation
(ha)

Change
(ha)

Change
(percent)

Paddy

241.92

153.52

-88.40

-36.5

Dry Land

173.04

206.49

+33.45

+19.3

Total

414.97

360.01

-54.96

-17.2

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

2.5 Hydrolancang’s Practices in
Managing Impacts of Local Livelihoods
In China, resettlement is a shared responsibility between the
government and project developer. In China, the dam company
is only legally required to develop resettlement action plan, pay
the compensation and resettlement costs, implementation of
resettlement plan or post-resettlement support is carried out by
the local government.

Manwan

The initial resettlement budget prepared by Hydrolancang
was 55 million RMB38 (approximately 882,000 USD). Each
displaced person only received about 3,000 RMB (481 USD) as
compensation. Before 2007, the displaced rural people in Manwan
project received 400 RMB (64 USD) per person per year as postresettlement support. After 2007, the post-resettlement support
increased to 600 RMB (96 USD) per capita per year in accordance
with the new resettlement policy. In addition, the duration of postresettlement support was extended from 10 to 20 years.
In 2002 and 2004 field trips conducted by a Chinese NGO and
academic researchers found that half of the population of Tianba
resettlement village lived on trash collection. Their resettlement
compensation, which was equal to five years of pre-dam farming
income, had been borrowed and lost in a business initiative by
the resettlement office. As a result many people lived only in the
temporary resettlement houses. Although Hydrolancang had
promised to give 3 to 5 percent of generated electricity to local
people, the local people could not afford to build the transmission
lines to gain access to the electricity.39
In 2004 Yunnan Province proposed resettling some communities
for a second time. Hydrolancang provided 87 million RMB
support. This resettlement package involved the second time
resettlement of 2,033 people and enhanced livelihood support for
5,357 people.40 There is evidence that the additional resettlement
support was still occurring ongoing between 2008 and 2009,
up to 5 years after the initial program was launched.41 In 2009,
China Environment Newspaper reported for a second time on the
sad story of Tianba village and another affected minority village,
Jiangbian.42 In 2013, Chinese media reported on the affected
village of Tiankouya, in which villagers’ crops had failed because
they could not afford to pump the water to irrigate crops and
couldn’t catch enough fish to support livelihoods.43

With the support from the local government, some local people
started to develop cage-based aquaculture as new income sources
in 2006.44 In addition from 2002 to 2008, Hydrolancang provided
over 1.3 million lac seedlings to local people near Manwan
reservoir and supported the development of lac plantation for
income generation.45 Since 2006, Hydrolancang invested over 10
million RMB (approximately 1.6 million USD) to build schools,
clinics, and water supply projects, and improve transportation
access in local villages. Another 1 million RMB was invested to
help the people around the reservoir to plant economic trees and
raise gooses to improve their livelihoods.46
After twenty years since the Manwan Dam was built and after
twice being resettle, many displaced people are still struggling
with the loss of livelihoods and living in poverty. During
International Rivers’ visit to Tianba Village in 2013, it was found
most of the families had only just completed relocation for the
second time. In the new resettlement village, most male adults
had moved to cities for paid work leaving only females at home.
The lack of farmland and limited local job opportunities leaves
many families without any other option. Although Tianba village
has new homes, each household now has over tens of thousands of
RMB in debt. People still don’t have convenient access to schools
and medical clinics.

Nuozhadu

Lessons learned from the Manwan Dam’s resettlement program
were reflected in the planning of Nuozhadu Dam. A basic
principle to maintain the same living standards post resettlement
was adopted for Nuozhadu’s Resettlement Program. The total
resettlement investment budget was therefore substantially higher
compared to Manwan, at 8,920 million RMB, (approximately
30,190 USD per person), almost ten times Manwan Dam’s
resettlement budget.
Resettlement site options were given to the affected people.
They could choose either to move up above the reservoir into
concentrated residential areas, move out of the reservoir area
into concentrated residential areas or move by themselves.47
Table 3 shows the standard compensation prices for small town
relocation. In 2010, the Puer City Government released the
“Notice about Suggestions on Resettlement and Compensation for
Nuozhadu Hydropower Project”, requiring the provision of water
supply, electricity supply, road access, education, clinics, and radio
and television to all resettlement sites and that livelihoods and
living standards be restored to pre-resettlement levels or the host
communities level.

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

11

Table 3: Compensation Prices for Small Town Relocation for Nuozhadu Hydropower Project
Housing Compensation

Ancillary Buildings Compensation

Scattered Fruit Trees and Other Plantation Trees
Compensation

Item

Unit

Frame Structure

RMB/m

699

Brick-concrete Structure

RMB/m

561

Brick-wood Structure

RMB/m

453

Earth-wood Structure

RMB/m

337

Wood Structure

RMB/m

344

1. Retaining Brickwork

RMB/m

90

2. Enclosing Walls

RMB/m

100

3. Outdoor Terrace (for Sun-drying)

RMB/m

20

4. Drinking Water Tank

RMB/m3

150

5. Water Supply Pipes

m/φ

2

6. Toilets/Latrines

RMB/item

60

7. Cooking Range

RMB/item

100

8. Biogas Digesters

RMB/item

1500

1. Fruit Trees

RMB/plant

37

2. Cash Trees

RMB/plant

22

3. Timber Trees

RMB/plant

12

4. Landscape Trees

RMB/plant

500

RMB

656

Paddy Field

RMB/mu

27344

Dry Land

RMB/mu

14176

Rubber Plantation Land

RMB/mu

33600

Timber Land

RMB/mu

3701

Unused Land

RMB/mu

7088

Earth-rock Excavation

RMB/m

11

Backfill Tamping

RMB/m

14

M5 Masonry Stone Retaining Walls

RMB/m

182

Concrete-paved Main Streets

RMB/m

Concrete-paved Secondary Streets

RMB/m

Concrete-paved lanes

RMB/m

Drainage Cost

RMB/m

Moving Cost
Land Acquisition Compensation (including land
compensation, relocation compensation, compensation
for any buildings on the land, and crops compensation)

Resettlement site preparation

Price
2
2
2
2
2
3
3
3

3
3
3

Civil Engineering Costs for Resettlement Site
Streets and Drainage

Water Supply Facilities Cost

Water Withdrawal Facilities

30000

DN125PE Pipes

RMB/km

126100

DN100PE Pipes

RMB/km

99124

DN50PE Pipes

RMB/km

40496

DN25PE Pipes

RMB/km

30000

DN15PE Pipes

RMB/km

18698

Water Storage Tank

RMB/m

220

Power Supply Facilities Cost

400V Low-voltage Distribution Lines

RMB/km

68000

Other Costs

Indoor Water Supply Facilities
Subsidy

RMB/person

200

Indoor Lighting Facilities Subsidy

RMB/person

200

12

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

3

People who choose to move upland or move out of the local
area were eligible for either land compensation or long-term
compensation. Land compensation included compensation with
land equivalent to that owned before resettlement. The longterm compensation package included a payment of 187 RMB
per month per capita (30 USD) to compensate a loss of 806
square meters of farmland for duration of the operating period
of Nuozhadu Dam and also a minimum of 200 square meters of
farmland per person.48 These amounts were to be adjusted along
with the rate inflation and economic development.
In Puer City, each resettled person from Nuozhadu Dam received
a livelihood development subsidiary of 4,000 RMB (641 USD)
and was offered a 50,000 RMB (8,016 USD) discount interest
loan towards the building of homes.49 Resettled rural people also
receive 600 RMB (96 USD) per person per year for twenty years
as post-relocation support.
In 2013 the Chinese researcher Lyv X conducted a survey of
114 resettled households and found the income structure had
significantly changed after resettlement (see Table 4). The
sample households had lost 30 to 50 percent of farmland after
resettlement and now relied much less on income generated from
agriculture. Some households who had lost irrigated paddy fields
but choose the long-term compensation option – which provided
some replacement farmland – also earned less from agriculture
because the replacement farmland was much smaller than
before.50
During field trips to Lancang River conducted in 2013, it was
found that the villagers resettled by Nuozhadu in 2011 received
more compensation, better quality land and paddy fields, and
in general were more satisfied with their current life than the
resettled villagers of Xiaowan, Manwan, and Dachaoshan Dams.
However, many resettled communities still faced problems due to
the lack of abundant natural resources, had difficulty finding jobs,
and suffered from unfair land compensations deals.
Larger compensation packages offer to the Nuozhadu
communities has meant that they have been able to develop
new livelihoods. At the Haitang Resettlement Area, families

have started roadside businesses, such as restaurant or hotels, to
accommodate tourists that visit Nuozhadu dam. They do not rely
on their land-based activities any more, but still have reserved
opinions of the resettlement process. Overall they are optimistic
about the future, although there is no prospect of jobs for the
many young people. Some of the villagers have mentioned that
many of the fishery species that used to live in the river are now
difficult to find.

2.6 What Prompted Changes in
Hydrolancang’s Practice?
Improvements in the Law

Improvements to China’s environmental laws in the late 1990s
and early 2000s had significant impacts on Hydrolancang’s
practices in biodiversity and fishery management for Nuozhadu
Dam. When the Manwan Dam began construction Chinese law
did not require an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). In
1998, the State Council approved the Ordinance of Environmental
Management for Construction Projects (OECMP), which made
construction projects of all sizes subject to EIA requirements
but fell short of requiring detailed EIA reports for all projects,
including provisions for public notification or participation.
In 2003, China launched its EIA Law requiring EIAs for both
government plans and construction projects. As a result, while
Manwan Dam did not go through an EIA process, Nuozhadu was
subject to the full EIA process.
Resettlement regulation reform in 2006 also made significant
improvements in China’s resettlement policies, which resulted in
major improvements in Nuozhadu Dam’s resettlement practices
compared with Manwan Dam. The “Regulation for Land
Acquisition and Resettlement for the Construction of Large and
Medium-Sized Water Conservancy and Hydropower Project”
(2006)51 established a new standard in resettlement, requiring
resettled people’s living standards be restored to or exceed
the pre-resettlement level, set up resettlement management
mechanism structures, clarified responsibilities, and mandated
the participation of the dam developer in resettlement planning
– including consulting with affected people, public participating

Table 4: The Income Structure of Sample Households
Type

Resettlement

Paddy field
(ha per capita)

Other land
Agriculture (%)
(dryland, orchard
land and
forestland) (ha
per capita)

Seasonal
Labor (%)

Compensation
(%)

Business
(%)

Movingup

Before

0.065

0.587

82.0

16.6

0

3.4

After

0 (no paddy field
compensation
because the
villagers all
choose long-term
compensation)

0.377

36.7

22.7

26.0

15.6

Movingout

Before

0.052

1.39

92.0

6.2

0

1.8

After

0.035

0.68

42.3

37.3

22.4

1.7

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

13

in the planning stage and fiscal responsibility for resettlement
and compensation costs. The regulation improved the farmland
compensation standards for displaced people to equal 16 times
average annual output value of the previous three years as the
minimum, whilst broadening items qualified for compensation
to included houses or trees above the inundation water level but
owned by households to be resettled.
In 2006, the State Council also released “Suggestions on
Perfecting Post-Resettlement Support Policies of Large and
Medium Sized Reservoirs”.52 The policy sets the post-resettlement
support standard at 600 RMB (92 USD) per capita per year
for twenty years, which can be directly given to the person as
subsidiary or be used for support programs. All rural people
who were displaced or will be displaced by large and medium
sized dams were eligible to receive the support. The new policy
also required that reservoir operation companies share the
responsibility of maintaining community support funds at the rate
of 0.008 RMB per kilowatt hour of electricity sold.53

Increasing Environmental and Social Scrutiny
from the NGOs, the Public and the Media

Manwan has been in the center of NGO, the public and media
scrutiny since 2002. NGOs have worked with local communities
to raise their stories and complaints about Manwan’s resettlement
practice. Dr. Yu Xiaogang from Green Watershed brought the
story of dam affected people to higher levels of government.
Complaints from resettled communities and local community
protests has placed a lot of pressure on the government to improve
the situation. On 17 August 2003, about 4,000 affected people
sat in front of Manwan Hydroelectric Station for three days
to express their complaints. After that event, the government
decided to provide 25 kilograms of food support per person per
year to the displaced people.54 With no formal responses from
Hydrolancang, it is difficult to judge the impact of these activities
on Hydrolancang’s practice.
The transboundary impacts of the Lancang Dams cascade
on fisheries and hydrology is a key concern of Lower Mekong
communities, NGOs and governments. International NGOs
and researchers have raised concerns that the construction of
the mega dams on the Lancang River threatens the complex
riverine ecosystem in the Lower Mekong River. While there has
been plenty of criticism of the lack of transboundary impacts
assessment in the development of the Lancang Dams, much of
the information about the planning, design, construction and
operation of the Lancang Dams is regarded as state secret in
China.

Additional Factors

There are several other important factors worth noting influencing
the company’s performance on biodiversity, fishery and livelihoods
impact management. Planning of Manwan Dam was rushed
because the local government wanted eagerly to develop this
project as a way of promoting local economic development. The
local government wanted to obtain approval from the central
government and grossly understated the investment budget,
which in turn negatively impacted the resettlement budget.
The lack of transparency, proper information disclosure, and
independent monitoring of resettlement and environmental
protection spending – money provided by the project developer –
creates opportunities for corruption in many hydropower projects
in China. Money often gets lost as it is processed from one level of
government to the next.
14

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

Limited information on the environmental impacts of the
Lancang Dams can be attributed also to the lack of baseline
knowledge about the biodiversity and fishery in Lancang Basin
that existed prior to hydropower development. Transboundary
impact assessments has been an area of no improvement between
Manwan and Nuozhadu Dams, which can be attributed to the fact
that Chinese law has never required this in project approvals.

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

15

3. Lower Sesan 2
Dam Project
3.1 Mitigation Measures for
Biodiversity and Fishery Impacts
Biodiversity and Fishery Impacts

Lower Sesan 2 Dam’s reservoir will inundate up to 30,000
hectares of forestland, including more than 16,000 hectares
of deciduous forest and more than 10,000 hectares of private
economic forest and land concessions, and over 1200 hectares of
agricultural land. The Rivers Coalition in Cambodia reported in
April 2013 that tree clearance for the dam reservoir had already
started. The company, ANG & Association Lawyer Co., Ltd., has
been active in the project area (inside and outside the reservoir)
cutting down luxurious wood and exporting the resources without
notifying or seeking consent from the local authorities and
communities.55
The project area is located within the Lower Mekong Dry Forest
Eco-region (LMDFE), and is also part of several Important Bird
Areas as identified by Birdlife International. The project site
provides habitats for a number of rare and endangered species,
including tigers, Asian elephants, gaur, Banteng, wild water
buffalos, eld’s deer, golden cat, fishing cat, black bear and gibbons
as well as bird species such as Sarus Cranes and vulture species.
The reservoir will not only inundate their habitats but also
threaten the food chain of these species.56
The EIA Report for the Lower Sesan 2 Project identified 106
fish species in both the Sesan and Srepok Rivers,57 but there is
evidence that this may underestimate the number of fish species.
The Cultural and Environmental Preservation Association (CEPA)
(2006) has identified 130 species in the same area. There are
54 and 64 migratory fish species respectively in the Sesan and
Srepok Rivers.58 Baran (2012) indicated that the Sesan River is
characterized by 133 species and the Sekong River by 240 fish
species. 112 fish species are common to the two basins.59 54 out of
133 fish species in Sesan and 81 out of 240 fish species in Srepok
are migratory species. The total fish catch in the Sesan River Basin
has been estimated ranging between 370 and 6,700 tonnes of fish
per year, 60 percent of which are migratory species. Nine endangered
fish species are found in the Sesan and Srepok Rivers, and 45 Mekong
endemic species are found the in the Srepok River and 24 in the Sesan
River.60 The Lower Sesan 2 Dam will not only block the fish passages,
but also destroy the vegetated islands and wetlands downstream and
upstream of the dam site from Kamphun to Sre Ko communes, the
same area where fish spawning and breeding sites are protected by
fish conservation zones.61

The impacts on fisheries will extend to further upstream of
Sesan and Srepok Rivers, and downstream of Mekong River
and the Tonle Sap Lake because the Lower Sesan Dam will
block two of the four main Mekong migration highways from
the fish production zones for long-distance migratory species
and the major breeding zones which are the Sesan, Srepok and
Sekong Rivers area. Studies have been done to document field
data and analyze the basin-wide and transboundary impacts on
fisheries.62, 63,64,65 A 2012 study published in the Proceedings of the

16

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

National Academy of Sciences found that the Lower Sesan 2 Dam
would cause a 9.3 percent drop in fish biomass in the Mekong
Basin, while threatening to push to extinction more than 50 fish
species.66 A study prepared by the Mekong River Commission
estimated that the total value of fishing occupation within the
Mekong Basin was between 5.6 billion USD and 9.4 billion USD.
Therefore, the Lower Sesan 2 Hydropower Dam would lead to a
loss of 520 million USD to 874 million USD per year. If built, the
Lower Sesan 2 Dam will also result in a 6 to 8 percent reduction of
the Mekong River’s sediment flows, as warned by experts from the
International Center for Environmental Management (ICEM) in
Vietnam. The sediment supply to the Mekong River is particularly
essential to the sustainability of rice paddy agriculture and the
Mekong delta area.

Mitigation Measures

According to Cambodia’s Law on the Government Guarantee
of Payments for the Lower Sesan 2 Dam, the environmental
protection investment is about 2.23 million USD, which equates
to less than 2 percent of the environment measures budget of
the Nuozhadu project. There is limited detail publicly available
on the mitigation measures Hydrolancang plans to adopt on
biodiversity and fisheries loss. There are reports that the project
developers have redesigned the Lower Sesan 2 Dam to mitigate
the project’s impacts on sediment. Such redesign may include a
height reduction and introduction of redial gates. Meanwhile,
substantive construction has been underway and it was publicly
reported that the river had been closed in January 2015.67

3.2 Livelihoods Impacts
and Mitigation Measures
Impacts on Livelihoods

Over 5,000 people from six villages in four communes, many of
whom are ethnic minorities, will be forcibly evicted and relocated
to make way for the dam reservoir. Five villages will be completely
relocated. They are Chrab, Srae Sranok, Srae Kor 1, Srae Kor 2,
Kbal Romeas. Another 14 households from Phluk village will be
relocated.

The Lower Sesan 2 Dam will also permanently alter the
livelihoods and cultures of tens of thousands of people living
along the Sesan and Srepok rivers, whose lives and traditions are
closely linked to the river system and its rich natural resources.
A 2009 study reported that at least 78,000 people, including 86
villages living along the Sesan and Srepok Rivers, and another 87
villages located along tributaries of these two rivers, would lose
access to fish resources as a result of the dam’s impact on fish
migration passages.68 The Project EIA estimated that villagers
living upstream from the dam along the Sesan and Srepok Rivers
would lose around 2.3 million USD per year due to fisheries loss,69
however the EIA failed to consider fish catch losses incurred by
people downstream and people along the tributaries and thus,
underestimated the overall loss. The dam will also result in a loss
of over 1,200 hectares of agricultural land, which makes up about
24 percent of total agricultural land in the Sesan District. The loss
of fisheries and farming land will impact food security and increase
livelihood risks. Furthermore, hundreds of thousands of people living
further downstream on the Mekong River and in the Tonle Sap Lake
area would be also negatively impacted by the reduction of fish stocks
caused by the dam.70

With regards to downstream impacts, a 2009 report71 estimated
that at least 22,277 people living downstream from the dam in Stung
Treng Province would experience a deterioration in quality of water
supplied from the river. Such impacts are likely to be felt starting from
the construction stage and into the Lower Sesan 2 Dam’s operation.
Downstream communities might experience construction pollution,
decomposition of organic matter in the river during reservoir
inundation, and during the dam’s operation - slower water flow will
lead to public health threats, as many of the people who live along
use river water for domestic purposes such as drinking, washing, and
cooking.

As the Lower Sesan 2 Dam’s resettlement action plans are still
being negotiated and clarified, we have also conducted our own
fieldwork on the social impacts of Lower Sesan 2 dam. For the
purposes of this study, we visited 14 villages during September
to November 2014 to ascertain the compensation and livelihood
restoration plans. We found that the resettlement impacts and
risks arising from the Lower Sesan 2 Dam vary amongst villages.
Table 5 summarizes the impacts on the livelihoods of the 14
villages from the Lower Sesan 2 project based on our field surveys.

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

17

Table 5: A Summary of the Impacts on the Livelihoods of the 14 Villages Due to the Lower Sesan 2 Dam
Downstream of the Dam Site
Kampun

Phluk

In the Reservoir Area

Village Name

Ban Mai

Use river for
what purposes

Fishing, transportation, riverbank farming, irrigation water, domestic water uses, feeding livestock, spiritual pray

Main Income
Sources

Farming and selling agricultural
products

Riverbank
agriculture

- Grow teak tree and herbal plants along the
riverbank.
- Some villagers grow vegetables along the riverbank,
especially in the dry season

- Farming and
selling agricultural
products
- Fishing

Fish
consumption

Eat fish as frequently as everyday

Ethnic identity

Ethnic Lao

Chrab

Srae
Sranok

Srae
kor 1

Srae
kor 2

Kbal
Khsach
Romeas Thmei

- Farming and selling agricultural products
- Fishing: The income from fishing varies from $2 to $10 normally and increases to
$20 - $30 per day in fishing season. One village can even make $100 per day from
selling fish in Nov-Dec.

People eat wild vegetables collected from
along the riverbank.

People grow paddy and
vegetables along the
riverbank.
People also eat wild
vegetables collected along
the riverbank.

Eat fish everyday

Khmer

Mainly
Brao,
some
Khmer

Mainly Lao, some
Khmer

Punong,
some
Khmer

- The
dam will
flood the
village
and
crops.

- The dam will flood their villages and lands
- The compensation will be not enough,
compared to what they lose
- The compensation is not reliable either

Common
- Their homes and spiritual
concerns about sites get flooded if the dam
the Lower
collapses
Sesan 2 Dam
expressed
by the
interviewees

- Farmland grabbed
by the company
- No more fish to
catch
- Water pollution
from the
construction

Major impacts
or risks from
the Lower
Sesan 2 Dam

-Loss of home, land, and livelihood, and risk of food security (reduction of
fishing and loss of agriculture land)
-Loss of water access
-Loss of boat transportation to upstream or downstream
-Loss of culture

18

- Negative impacts on
livelihood and risk of food
security (reduction of fishing
and loss of riverbank gardens)
- Health risks due to
deterioration of water quality
- Loss of boat transportation to
upstream

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

Krabei
Chrum

Lao and
Khmer
mixed,
Khek

Lao,
some
Khmer

- The
dam will
flood their
paddies,
houses,
plantation,
pagoda
and burial
places.

- The dam
will flood the
village, but
there is no
compensation

- Negative impacts on
the livelihoods and risk
of food security due to
reduction of fishery, loss
of riverbank gardens,
and loss of wild
vegetables and leaves
which currently grown
along the riverbanks
- Health risks due to
deterioration of water
quality
- Loss of boat
transportation to
downstream

Upstream of the Dam Site
Hat Pak,
Sesan River

Veun Hay, Sesan River

Phlueu
Touch,
Sesan River

Tumpuou
Reung, Sesan
River

Ke Kuong
Leu, Sesan
River

Lumphat, Srepok River

- Farming and selling agricultural products

- Farming and selling agricultural products
- Fishing

- People grow vegetables along the riverbank in these upstream villages.
- People also eat wild vegetables and wild leaves which grow along the riverbank.

- People grow vegetables along the riverbank in
these upstream villages.
- People also eat wild vegetables and wild leaves
which grow along the riverbank.
- People also grow bamboo, korki, srolao, teak
for building houses and furniture, and traditional
medicines along the riverbank.

Eat fish as frequently as
everyday, but buy most
fish from the market
Eat fish as frequently as
everyday

Frequency of fish consumption at home varies from 5-6 times
per month to everyday. People all noted that there is fewer fish to
catch in the river now.

Lao

- The dam
- The dam may flood their homes,
may flood
and spiritual places.
spiritual
- Loss of fishery
houses and
forests

Brao

- The dam may flood their houses, paddy,
and burial places

Eat fish everyday

Lao, Krueng, Lun, Khmer (Lao is the majority,
followed by Krueng).

- The dam may flood the village and spiritual
places
- One interviewee said he’s worried about the
health problems and food insecurity as a result of
the project

- Negative impacts on the livelihoods and risk of food security due to reduction of fishery, loss of riverbank gardens, and loss of wild vegetables and
leaves which currently grow along the riverbanks.
- Loss of boat transportation to downstream

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

19

Our field research confirmed other findings on the local
community’s reliance on fish resources. Most of the interviewees
ate fish everyday. They either caught fish by themselves, or
purchased it from the market. In nine villages, including all six
resettlement villages, fishing was listed as one of the main income
sources.
During our fieldwork, we collected the names of fish species that
local villagers identified as important to their communities for
livelihood and cultural reasons. All the fish species identified by
local villagers in the interviews are all migratory fishes (Table 6).
Note the Khmer names include translation of names from local
languages spoken by the communities.
In addition every villager expressed concern about the impacts of
Lower Sesan 2 Dam on the local culture, including the destruction
of their spiritual beliefs and cultural sites, which would anger their
ancestors and bring bad luck.

Villagers from Phluk have witnessed the company clearing
spiritual forests and digging up half of the ancestral burial lands in
order to source materials for road construction. The dam company
did not compensate the villagers for these impacts, nor would any
monetary figure be able to compensate the damage caused. The
villagers are concerned that these activities have angered their
ancestors and brought bad luck to their village, kids and future
livelihoods.

Compensations and Livelihoods Support

In February 2013, the National Assembly of Cambodia approved
the “Law on the Government Guarantee of Payments for the
Lower Sesan 2 Dam.” The law stipulated that 41.94 million
USD would be budgeted for resettlement and construction for
important infrastructure. The law provides for the following
benefits for local villagers or affected people72:

Table 6: List of Fish Species Local Villagers Identified as Important to them in 2014 Field Trips
Khmer Names/Other names

Latin Names

Pasi Ee Fish

Mekongina erythrospila

Pawa Fish

Labeo erythropterus

Real Fish

Henicorhychus lobatus and siamensis

Snake Fish

Channa micropeltes

Cat Fish

Many species

Cucumber Fish

Probarbus labeaminor

Khcha Fish
Chhlang Fish

Hemibagrus nemurus

Chhpen Fish

Hypsibarbus suvattii/Hypsibarbus malcolmi

Case Fish

Phalacronotus bleekeri/Phalacronotus micronemus

Trosek Fish

Probarbus jullieni or labeomajor

Kaek Fish

Labeo chrysophekadion

Chhkeang Fish
Khchar Fish
Damrey Rey Po Fish

Oxyeleotris marmorata

Chhkauk

Cyclocheilichthys enoplos

Sanday Fish

Wallago attu

Achkok Fish

Labiobarbus leptocheilus/Labiobarbus siamensis

Brake Fish
Pra Fish

Pangasius hypophthalmus or krempfi

Romeas Fish

Osphronemus exodon

Chhkhneng Fish
Tarek Fish

Alburnus tarichi

Stoulh Fish
Kol Raeng Fish

Catlocarpio siamensis

Khlang Hay

Belodontichthys truncatus

Irrawaddy Dolphin

Orcaella brevirostris
Note: This species in particular was identified as culturally important rather than regularly caught, and is no
longer found in the Sesan River.

Takel Fish

20

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

• Compensation based on the sizes of farm land, plantations,
houses, various structures, and crops affected by the project.
• Construction of 797 houses: one 80 square meter house for one
household of eight people, built on a land area of 1,000 square
meters of which 400 square meters is reserved for the house
and 600 square meters for gardens.
• Provision of 5 hectares of farm / plantation land per household
(already cleared).
• Construction of public works for each commune, including
roads, one commune office, one police station, one pagoda, one
health center, one kindergarten, one primary school, one lower
secondary school, one water well per 5 households, public
gardens, sports complex, and irrigation infrastructure.
• Provision of allowance and rice for 12 months.
• Provision of some basic vocational training to enable
adaptation to new livelihoods.
• Construction of 24 kilometers of road (bitumen) from the
construction site to Stung Treng town.
• 38.7 million USD budgeted for compensation, building
new houses, and construction of basic infrastructure in
resettlement villages
• 3.23 million USD for irrigation infrastructure in relocation
sites.
• 2.23 million USD for environmental protection measures.
• 5.05 million USD for clearance of mines and unexploded
ordnances.
• 3.70 million USD for clearing farm/plantation land for affected
people.
Despite the law, many villagers are still unclear on compensation
entitlements or even the impacts of Lower Sesan 2 Dam.
Based on existing NGO reports, our own fieldwork and media
reporting, some villagers, at least in Phluk (where some
compensation has already been provided), have had the option
of either obtaining monetary compensation only or to seek
resettlement and land-for-land compensation.
Under the land-for-land compensation option, villagers have
received around 5 hectares of land, which has included new
housing and plantations. A recent community based research
report prepared by the River Coalition of Cambodia said that the
compensation package on offer included one house on a 5000
square meter block, 5 hectares of rice paddy and 1 hectare of
plantation forest.73 However, some villagers have said that the
land area lost was much greater than that provided and have
also expressed concerns that the resettled farmland will not
be as productive as their existing land.. A Srae Kor commune
representative described the resettlement site as in an unfertile
area, 3 kilometers from the Sesan River “where the land is very
rocky.”74 In addition to quality of compensation issues, land lost
by host communities who previously owned land, farms and
plantations is also of concern. As noted in the Manwan case study,
host communities were forced to give up or sell land to the project
developer and company for affected communities. This in turn
negatively affected their livelihoods.
The location of the resettlement site appears to have influenced a
decision by some villagers in Phluk village to accept a monetary
compensation package to avoid living in a resettlement site.
Based on our research, compensation values had so far ranged
from 10,000 to 15,000 USD for around 5 hectares of land lost,
though some farmers had only been promised 500 USD because
their property had not been included in the original resettlement

census. All villagers reported lower than promised compensation
figures.
The following section details findings based on field research
conducted regarding compensation and resettlement.
Phluk Village: Construction Site Area
Of the 10 households impacted in Phluk village by construction,
only five households in have received compensation, while
another five households have not. In the studies conducted by the
previous dam developer, EVN International, only five households
were registered as impacted householders. Hydrolancang had
promised to provide 20,000 USD to each of the registered
household as compensation but each received different amount
of compensation ranging from 10,000 to 15,000 USD despite the
sizes of the plots being similar size at around 5 hectares. Villagers
also reported that some of the money has been lost in processing
by local authorities. The remaining five households who were
overlooked in the first resettlement study have only been offered
500 USD as compensation, which they have yet to receive as of
October 2014.
The company promised to provide compensation for main houses,
toilet, moving costs, fruit trees, plantation trees and farmland,
but the villagers are not clear about how much compensation
they will receive for each item. They don’t know where the new
resettlement site is, whether the style of housing will reflect
their traditional structures, and whether they will have road or
electricity access. The villagers say that the company will provide
rice for one year, and provide a one time payment of 100 USD to
each household to remove their houses and cut down their trees,
information they obtained from the local NGO, 3SPN
Chrab Village: Reservoir Area
Chrab village was formed in 1980s when people moved from
lowland areas of Cambodia. Because of their short history and
their expectations that they will receive better lands and houses
after resettlement, they have agreed to be resettled.
The Chrab community has been informed of an approximate
location of the resettlement site by the previous Vietnamese
developer, but they are not clear whether the same site will be
used by the current project developers. The whole village will be
resettled, but there are discrepancies in the official numbers of
families in the village. The village submitted a request of revising
the number of affected households to the provincial governor, but
at the time of fieldwork in October 2014 had not heard back about
their request.
Kbal Romeas, Srae Sranok, Srae Kor 1, Srae Kor 2: Reservoir Area
All four villages will be inundated by Lower Sesan 2 Dam’s
reservoir and completely resettled. In all four villagers, many
households opposed the dam citing concerns about the loss of
traditional livelihoods, new livelihoods will not be of the same
quality as current ones, and loss of access to the river. Many
villagers were critical that the dam company would benefit from
the project, but that the loss would be borne by them. One villager
noted that the Lower Sesan 2 Dam was only important because it
made the company richer, but would make them poorer.

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

21

The lack of information of the resettlement plan has exacerbated
worries about the impact of the dam. Many interviewees said
they were not clear on the compensation plan or that the plan
completely non-existent. Confusion or lack of clarity may be
due to the fact that the main method of informing villagers is
through meetings. Six of sixteen interviewed families had never
attended any consultation meetings while six attended only
once. Just four interviewees indicated that they had met the
government and the dam company on more than one occasion.
Villagers, who had attended the meetings, described the meeting
experience as negative because they felt that the promises they
received from the government officials and the dam company
were unreliable. Overall, information about the compensation and
resettlement plan was very limited, and villagers were told that the
compensation scheme and resettlement plans were not negotiable.
Every interviewed household felt the resettlement plan and
compensation was not acceptable. Villagers felt their concerns
had not been incorporated although some of them had a chance to
express their frustrations in village meetings. Among the concerns
shared by villagers was the location of the resettlement sites,
the quality of houses, whether the land compensation would be
enough to support their livelihoods, the productivity of new lands,
and access to the river. Although how households would support
their future livelihoods after resettlement was a primary concern,
villagers had no information about whether future livelihood
support would be provided.

Reservoir Area: Khsach Thmei and Krabei Chrum Villages
There is confusion within these two villages as to whether
resettlement of households will be required. The 2009 EIA Report
did not include these two villages in the resettlement plan as they
would not be inundated by the reservoir. However the draft EMP
(KCC 2008) indicated that Khsach Thmei and Krabei Chrum
villages would have to relocate.75 More recently, a map shared by
Statutory Working Group established under the Regulation and
Legal Procedure for Solving the Compensation and Resettlement
Policy of Lower Sesan 2 Hydropower Project, included households
from these two villages in resettlement plans.76
Contrary to the uncertainty over the dam’s impacts, the
government has informed the villagers that their villages will
not be flooded and there will be no compensation from the
dam developer. Confusion has exacerbated the worrying in the
households in these villages. Many households said they were
sure that they would be flooded and would not receive any
compensation.
Downstream Villages: Ban Mai and Kampun Villages
These two villages are located downstream of the dam and while
be impacted by the project, will not be inundated. Villagers
are aware the Lower Sesan 2 Dam will alter hydrological flows.
They understand that the dam will hold back the floodwaters in
the wet season, and are concerned about flooding caused by the

Table 7: Collected Compensation Information for Kbal Romeas, Srae Sranok, Srae Kor 1, Srae Kor 2 Villages
Compensation Scheme Items
Main houses

Yes

Ancillary buildings (eg grain stores, toilets, kitchen buildings, etc)

Yes

Moving cost

Yes, 100 USD per family

Fruit trees and valuable plantation trees

Yes

Farmland (eg. rice paddy, vegetable gardens, etc)

Yes

Other valuable community land/resources (eg. spirit forest, religious sites, etc)

No

Livelihoods support (eg cash compensation, aquaculture, grains, tourism support, etc)

No

Regarding new resettlement area: Will the company build the following items and/or how much will they pay for them?
Resettlement area site preparation

Yes

Main houses

Yes

Ancillary buildings (eg grain stores, toilets, kitchen buildings, etc)

Yes

Farmland

Yes

Provide individual household Water supply

Yes

Provide individual Electricity supply

Cheaper price or free
electricity for one year

Provide individual household waste water drainage

No

Other things (for public-clinic, school, wat, others)

Yes

Rice support after resettlement

Yes, 20 kg per month
for one year

22

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

dam needing to release excess water or even breaking. Villagers
were not aware of the detailed impacts of Lower Sesan 2, but
knew of impacts of well-known projects such as Yali Falls. They
described how the dam would affect their cultural practices by
ruining scared sites or altering water flows such that traditional
ceremonies could not take place.
Overall, these downstream villages do less fishing activity
compared to communities in the reservoir area. However the
frequency of fish consumption reported by the interviewees was
still substantial, ranging from ten days per month to everyday.
Villagers from Kampum village do garden along the riverbank
in the dry season and both villages grow teak trees along the
riverbank. Despite the serious impacts on their riverbank gardens
due to irregular water releases from the dam, the villagers will not
receive any compensation for the dam’s impacts.
Hat Pak, Veun Hay, Phlueu Touch, Tumpuou Reung, Ke Kuong
Leu, Lumphat: Upstream Villagers
These six villages are located further upstream of the reservoir
on the Srepok and Sesan Rivers. None of the villagers have ever
received formal information about the impacts of Lower Sesan 2
Dam, and whether compensation will extend to their communities
despite the obvious impacts on fisheries and riverbank agriculture.
Without additional information, villagers have drawn their own
conclusions about what the impacts of the dam will be. Of most
concern is the impact on spiritual and burial sites, as well as loss
of farmlands and houses. As discussed below, all villagers have
noticed a reduction in fish availability, which constitutes a key part
of their diet and food security.
The villagers in Veun Hay catch fish from the Sesan River for
eating and at the time of fieldwork, had already observed the
decrease of fish in the river since the dam construction started last
year.
In the interviews we conducted in Hat Pak, we learned that they
had observed a noticeable reduction in fish caught such that in
all cases they had to supplement with bought fish from a local
market. One family described it now “very difficult” or “hard”
to catch fish. In Ta Veng village, we also found that the villagers
interviewed were supplementing reduced fish catches through
market purchases. One villager told us that his catch had reduced
to only 5 to 6 times a month. Villagers in Veun Hay related the
reduced fish availability to the start of dam construction. Reduced
fish catches may also be impacting supplementary income sources
not only from the sale of excess fish ranging from 2.50 to 10 USD
per kilo, but also fish products such as pastes that are made from
fermenting fish.

the dam. These forest products included Kandaul leaves, Lvea
leaves, Pronat Rey, Phtey Toek, Raeng, Andaeng flower, Bromat
Rey, Spey Toeuk, bamboo shoots, Smack, Rock flower, riverweed,
and many other tree leaves along the riverbank for food and
medicinal qualities.
Generally, villagers are not clear about what benefits they will
receive from the dam and many were not aware of status of the
construction progress.

3.3 Comparison Summary
Table 8 compares the degree of impacts on biodiversity, fishery,
and livelihoods from Manwan, Nuozhadu and Lower Sesan 2
Dams, as well as the practices undertaken by the dam developers
in managing the project’s environmental and social impacts.
It is important to note there are key differences in political,
social and economic contexts for these projects, even between
the two Chinese case studies Manwan and Nuozhadu. However,
compared with Nuozhadu Dam, the investment in environmental
protection and resettlement in the Lower Sesan 2 Dam is very
low. For example, the environmental protection investment by
Hydrolancang in Lower Sesan 2 Dam is less than 2 percent of
the investment in Nuozhadu Dam. If we examine the projects in
context, it is clear that Lower Sesan 2 Dam has more significant
environmental impacts given that the project is the first in
the area, compared to Nuozhadu Dam, which was a dam in
an existing hydropower cascade. If we examine the context
(e.g. scale of environmental impacts) and allow for economic
factors (inflation, exchange rates), Lower Sesan 2’s budget is still
significantly below the standard set in China.
The Lower Sesan 2 resettlement and compensation budget is
only one fourth of the budget for Nuozhadu, which in part can be
attributed to the lack of post-resettlement support and livelihood
restoration programs, which were features of Manwan and
Nuozhadu Dams. The support for community infrastructure in
the resettlement sites is also limited when comparing the Chinese
and Cambodian Dams. Based on the compensation Phluk villagers
have received (at the time of fieldwork, this was the only village
to have received compensation), the compensation rate on the
farmland and forestland was also lower than Nuozhadu standards,
even when accounting for differences in local economies.
Compensation is limited only to the inundated villages. There isn’t
any compensation or livelihood support program for the people
who live downstream and upstream of the reservoir and whose
livelihoods will be negatively impacted by the dam.

Under the current resettlement plan, upstream communities
will not receive any compensation for any lost of fisheries, river
gardens, wild fruits or vegetables, or economic trees along the
riverbank. Villagers upstream of the project are also concerned
that riverbank gardens – ranging from fruits, vegetables and herbs
– will be affected by the dam. Along the riverbank, villagers grow
rice, cashew, sugar cane, banana, and vegetables such as pumpkin,
long bean, chili, mint, corn, morning glory, cabbage, eggplants,
sweet potatoes, and taro. Most of these gardens are grown for
personal consumption and are key to their food security.
Many villagers were concerned that wild forest products that were
edible would be lost as a result of the flooding brought about by

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

23

Table 8: Comparison of the Impacts on Biodiversity, Fishery, and Livelihoods from Manwan, Nuozhadu
and Lower 2 Dams, and Hydrolancang’s Practices in Managing These Impacts

Manwan Dam, China (Upper Mekong)
Installed Capacity (MW)

1,550

Reservoir Area (km2)

23.6 k

Inundated Areas (ha)

Forest

567.2

Farmland

415

Summary of impacts on biodiversity and fisheries

Fish surveys in 2009 and 2010 found the number of fish species had
reduced from 139 to 80 with the biggest change seen in the middle and
lower Lancang (Mekong) River; Only 71 out of 165 fish species historically
recorded have been caught in middle and lower Lancang River since
2008; Big fishes largely decreased while small and medium sized fishes
became dominant; 15 new native species and 12 alien species were
found while some local species disappeared.

Environmental Protection Investment

58 million RMB (9.35 million USD)

Biodiversity and Fisheries impacts mitigation measures

Established an environmental monitoring station, but no further information
on additional measures were released.

Resettlement population

3,513 estimated; revised up to 7,260 persons by the completion of the
Project’s Phase I

Compensation
Total resettlement and compensation investment

142 million RMB (22.9 million USD)
3,154 USD per person

General compensation

First Resettlement: 484 USD for each displaced person covering all the
compensation

Main houses

Second Time Resettlement:
Land: 80 m2 / person
Average building area: 25 m2 / person
House construction subsidy: 58 RMB / m2

Ancillary buildings (eg grain stores, toilets, kitchen buildings, etc)

Second resettlement:
Average building area: 9 m2 /person
House construction subsidy: 40 USD /m2

Moving cost

No moving support provided during the original resettlement phase. Second
time resettlement: 98 USD per person

Fruit trees and valuable plantation trees

24

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

Nuozhadu Dam, China (Upper Mekong)

Lower Sesan 2, Cambodia (Lower Mekong)

5,850

400

320

335.6

17,994

30,000

5,816 ha farmland, and 2613 ha gardens

1,200

Fish surveys in 2009 and 2010 found the number of fish species
had reduced from 139 to 80 with the biggest change seen in the
middle and lower Lancang (Mekong) River; Only 71 out of 165
fish species historically recorded have been caught in middle and
lower Lancang River since 2008; Big fishes largely decreased while
small and medium sized fishes became dominant; 15 new native
species and 12 alien species were found while some local species

Estimated 9.3% drop in fish biomass in the whole Mekong Basin and
would threaten more than 50 fish species.

790 million RMB (127 million USD)

2.23 million USD

- Established a 6.6ha botanic garden for valuable and rare plants and moved
11 important plant species.
- Adopted the stratified water intake with a stoplog gate to mitigate water
temperature change;
- Fish releasing program: 2.15 million young fishes were released in June 2013
with 3 additional fish release events planned between 2013-2015;
- Since 2008, Hydrolancang has started to selectively trap and transport fish
over the dam wall;
- Plan to establish natural fish reserve area from downstream of Ganlan Dam to
Nanla River, one of the tributaries of Lancang River

- Unconfirmed redesign to enable sediment management. Adopt radial
gates to promote sediment flush.
- Reduced dam wall height to reduce the inundation area.
- Possible investigations on fish passages.
- Fish restocking

47,654 people (resettled and affected landowners included)

> 6,000 people

8,920 million RMB (1,439 million USD)
30,190 USD per person

41.94 million USD
6,990 USD per person

- 55 to 113 USD / m2 depending on house structure
- 50,000 RMB low-interest loan for building their own houses

A new house designed for a household of eight persons and measuring
80m2 on 1km2 of land, of which 400 m2 is residential and 600m2 is for
gardening.

1. Retaining Brickwork 14.5 USD /m3
2. Enclosing Walls 16 USD/m3
3. Outdoor Terrace (for Sun-drying) 3.2 USD/m3
4. Drinking Water Tank 24 USD /m3
5. Water Supply Pipes 0.32 USD m/φ
6. Toilets/Latrines 10 USD/item
7. Cooking Range 12 USD/item
8. Biogas Digesters 242 USD/item

Yes, but limited information available to support comparison.

106 USD per person

100 USD per household

1. Fruit Trees 6 USD/plant
2. Cash Trees 3.5 USD/plant
3. Timber Trees 2 USD/plant
4. Landscape Trees 81 USD /plant

2 - 40 USD depending on tree type

continued on page 24

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

25

Table 8: Continued
Manwan Dam, China (Upper Mekong)
Farmland (eg. rice paddy, vegetable gardens, etc)

Land Compensation
Paddy field: 333 m2/person
Rain-fed land: 1000 m2 /person
Unused land suitable for forestation: 666 m2 /person
Paddy Field 66,155 USD /ha
Dry Land 34,297USD/ha
Rubber Plantation Land 81,290 USD/ha
Timber Land 8,954 USD /ha
Unused Land 7,088 USD/ha

Other valuable community land/resources (eg. spirit forest, religious
sites, etc)

No

Water supply infrastructure

Second resettlement:
Infrastructure subsidy: 161 USD/person

Electricity supply infrastructure

Second resettlement:
Infrastructure subsidy: 161 USD/person

Rice Support

-

Post-resettlement Support

20 years post-resettlement support: USD 64.5 per capita per year before
2007 and USD 97 after 2007

Livelihood restoration

- Since 2006, the government started to teach local people cage-based
aquaculture techniques.
- From 2002 to 2008, Hydrolancang provided over 1.3 million lac seedlings
to local people near Manwan reservoir and support them to develop lac
plantation and income generation.
- Since 2006, Hydrolancang invested over 10 million RMB to establish
six primary schools in the Manwan area, completed 12 drinking water
supply projects for 5,050 people, construction of 3 local clinic, improved
transportation access for 11 villages, and invested about 1 million RMB
to help the people around the reservoir to plant economic trees and raise
gooses to improve their livelihoods.

26

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

Nuozhadu Dam, China (Upper Mekong)
Land Compensation

Option Long-term compensation
program

Lower Sesan 2, Cambodia (Lower Mekong)
5 ha of farm/plantation land

- 187 RMB per month per capita to
compensate a loss of 806m2 farmland
for the whole operation period of the
hydropower project
- 200 m2 paddy per person. - Resettlement fee for the extra farmland
exceeding 1,006m2.
No

No

Water withdrawal infrastructure: 4,839 USD
DN125PE Pipe: 20,339 USD/km
DN100PE Pipe: 15,988 USD /km
DN50PE Pipe: 6,532 USD /km
DN25PE Pipe: 4,839 USD /km
DN15PE Pipe: 3,016 USD /person
Water Storage Tank: 35 USD /person
Indoor water supply equipment: 32 USD /person

One well for every five families

Electricity supply infrastructure: 10,968 USD /km
Indoor electricity supply equipment: 32 USD /person

Discount on electricity use for one year

-

20kg rice per family or per person for the first year

20 years post-resettlement support: 97 USD per year per capita for twenty
years

None

- One time 645 USD per person as livelihood development subsidy

No

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

27

4. Key Findings
The report’s findings are based on comparisons in the company’s
practice regarding social and environmental impact mitigation
in Cambodia and China. In preparing the findings, we were very
conscious of the impact of a variety of project specific factors
such as the regulatory framework and division of responsibilities
between the project developer and state. However, our research
findings from Hydrolancang’s projects on the Upper Lancang
coupled with recent field research around the Lower Sesan 2
Dam provides grounds to make reasonable assessments and
predictions about the company’s ability to mitigate the large
social and environmental impacts of Lower Sesan 2 Dam. The
report’s findings are grouped in the area of environmental impacts
mitigation, social impact mitigation, company and community
relations, and lessons learned.

4.1 Comparison of Environmental
Impacts Mitigation Measures Between
Projects in China and Cambodia
The environmental protection budget in Lower Sesan 2 is less
than 2 percent of what it is in the Nuozhadu, which has adopted
various measures to mitigate the biodiversity and fisheries
impacts, such as relocating endangered and important tree species
to botanic garden, establishing wildlife aid center and redesigning
the water intake gate. The developers of Lower Sesan 2 Dam
have yet to publicly adopt or commit to any concrete measures to
mitigate the impacts on freshwater and terrestrial biodiversity.
While there are behind-the-scenes discussions of a dam redesign
to manage sedimentation, there has yet to be any public disclosure
of relevant information.
The effectiveness of the mitigation measures Hydrolancang has
adopted in Nuozhadu is still in doubt. According to experts,
the design measure to mitigate water temperature changes in
Nuozhadu has very limited mitigation effects compared to the
great negative impacts. Hydrolancang also does not have a good
track record in sediment management in China. T he sediment
issues were grossly underestimated in the design of Manwan Dam,
which shortened the life span and compromised the operational
efficiency of the dam. All the measures Hydrolancang has adopted
have been limited to the reservoir area, compared to the project’s
significant downstream and upstream impacts. Considering the
extensive downstream and upstream impacts by the Lower Sesan
2, a transboundary environmental impact assessment is required
to properly evaluate the downstream and upstream impacts
before the project approval and construction. However, the dam
developers have failed to commit to conducing a transboundary
environmental impact assessment. Hydrolancang also has no
previous experience in developing a transboundary environmental
impact assessments or properly managing transboundary impacts.
However, Hydrolancang has undertaken some good practices in
other Lancang dam projects, such as cancelling Mengsong Dam
to avoid impacts on fish migration, cancelling Guonian Dam to
avoid potential impacts on the Mingyong glacier, and reducing

28

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

the height of Wunonglong Dam to avoid the impacts on the
three parallel area. The chance of Hydrolancang’s compromising
profitability to protect environment still exists, under certain
circumstances. We feel that the strict legal requirements and
pressures from governments played more important roles in these
processes.

4.2 Comparison of the Social Impact
Mitigation Measures Between Projects
in China and Cambodia
The scale of resettlement in the Lower Sesan 2 Dam is comparable
to the Manwan Dam, and smaller than Nuozhadu, affecting
only about one eighth of the affected population of Nuozhadu.
However, the impacts on livelihoods caused by the Lower Sesan
2 extend to communities who live upstream and downstream of
the reservoir, along the downstream Mekong River and around
the Tonle Sap Lake. As is the case with the case studies from the
Lancang River, compensation in the Lower Sesan 2 Dam project
has been limited to directly affected villages and households in the
reservoir area, and excludes communities impacted both upstream
and downstream of the dam project.
The standards of compensation the company has agreed are lower
than the standards deployed in Nuozhadu Dam. Acknowledging
that there are local differences between the Lancang and Lower
Sesan 2 communities and that any comparisons are illustrative,
the compensation package being offered to affected people by
Lower Sesan 2 is only 23 percent of Nuozhadu’s resettlement
budget on a per person basis. The differences could be attributed
the lack of strong national guidelines in Cambodia. The 2006
Chinese resettlement regulations were critical in improving the
amount of resettlement compensation and post-resettlement
support in the Nuozhadu project, particularly compared with
Manwan Dam. In Cambodia, the lack of national resettlement
laws and regulations in Cambodia practically means that the
project developers and the government will determine the
resettlement compensation and livelihood restoration in an adhoc way, and focused only on the reservoir and inundation area.
We found that if the villagers choose to receive compensation
as cash for the loss of land, the land compensation paid in the
Lower Sesan 2 is much lower than the Nuozhadu standard. If the
villagers choose not to receive cash, the new farms or plantation
land (chamkar) promised by the Cambodian Government for
each household will be more than the Nuozhadu standard.
However, whether the new lands will be as productive as the
original lands is in question. The villagers have expressed serious
concerns about the quality of the potential compensation land.
Lower Sesan 2’s Project Developers have so far only committed
to little or no livelihood support for the Lower Sesan 2 Project,
which falls below the practices adopted by one of the project
partners, Hydrolancang, in Nuozhadu Dam. The stronger focus
on livelihood restoration in Nuozhadu reflects that Hydrolancang
sought to avoid the mistakes made in resettling communities
impacted by Manwan Dam and impoverishing communities
further.
For most recent Lancang dam projects, the objective of livelihood
resettlement was to maintain the same living standards post
resettlement. This is the standard now set by Chinese law and

also the standard in international best practice. Cambodia law
requires “fair and just” compensation,77 which is not defined, but
arguably implies the same living standard. The Expropriation Law
also requires “market price or replacement cost” for expropriated
property.78. In Nuozhadu, post resettlement measures included,
long-term compensation for the duration of the operation of
the hydropower project, livelihood development subsidies,
discounted loans to support the building of new dwellings. That
Hydrolancang’s efforts to improve the situation of the affected
communities of Manwan dam commenced after significant
criticism is also worth noting. Since 2006, Hydrolancang has
constructed additional primary schools, built local drinking
water projects, medical clinics and built community access roads.
Funds have also been dispersed for the purchases of agricultural
animals and trees for plantations. Finally, Hydrolancang has
funded aquaculture projects designed to give affected people
the skills to farm fish. Breaking with its track record which saw
Hydrolancang’s continuous involvement in the resettlement
process and post-resettlement support program in Nuozhadu
Dam, Hydrolancang has left all monitoring and oversight of
resettlement and post-resettlement support to the Cambodian
government and its partner in the Lower Sesan 2 Dam, Royal
Group. During our fieldwork and research, we found no public
commitment by the Lower Sesan 2 Project Developers to establish
a livelihood restoration budget or any such preparatory activities
around the Lower Sesan 2 Project.
A lack of respect to local culture and little or no compensation
for the loss of cultural resources have been common issues in
all three projects. Both Manwan and Nuozhadu Dams involved
resettlement of many ethnic minorities, and there was little
evidence that any protection or compensation was made to the
minority people for their specific cultural losses. However there
are some indications that the treatment of cultural heritage in the
Lower Sesan 2 Dam Project may be worse because of the lack of
acknowledgment of harm caused and compensation offered. In
the Lower Sesan 2 Dam, although a new pagoda was promised to
every resettlement village, the construction activities in the Phluk
village have already negatively impacted local spiritual forests and
ancestral burial lands while no protection measure was taken and
no compensation was paid. Interviewees from all visited villages
expressed concerns about the flooding of spiritual sites by the
project. No solid social impacts analysis has been carried out and
no cultural heritage compensation plan has been developed.
Some Chinese companies developing dams overseas have
defaulted to Chinese standards and practices, particularly when
local requirements are lower. At a practical level, this ensures that
there exists within the company a minimum standard of practice
established by Chinese requirements. In meetings between
Hydrolancang and NGOs, Hydrolancang acknowledged there
were a series of gaps between Chinese resettlement standards
and the standard being implemented on the ground for the
Lower Sesan 2 Dam. It is well recognized in China and also in
Hydrolancang’s Chinese projects, that there are significant social
impacts associated with the resettlement of affected people from
large dams, and that livelihood support is critical for many years
after construction. However, such commitments or solid plans
have not been made to affected communities in the Lower Sesan 2
Project.

4.3 Responsiveness to Civil Society
and NGO Concerns: Hydrolancang
Manwan Dam has been the center of public scrutiny due to its
association with very poor resettlement practice. Some of the
affected communities impacted by Manwan Dam, almost 20 years
ago were recently resettled a second time in response to NGO and
public pressure over their desperate situation. Chinese NGOs,
such as Green Watershed, have brought to public attention the
plight of farmers who had been moved by Manwan Dam, only to
find themselves with no means to make a living besides rubbish
collection. Affected communities have also taken measures against
the company. In August 2003, 4,000 affected peoples sat in front
of Manwan Hydropower Station for three days to express their
complaints about resettlement. While the local government’s
response to the situation has been swift in terms of additional
support, there has been no direct company reaction to the NGO
and civil society concerns raised.
Lower Sesan 2 Dam, is a dam under construction and much of
the resettlement work still to be implemented. The comparisons
between the Chinese and Cambodia projects are more difficult to
make but the report concluded the following findings. First, the
majority of the work on community relations has been undertaken
by the local government and led by the local project developer,
Royal Group. The leadership of the local government is similar to
the situation in China, however responsive and proactive efforts to
address livelihoods and protect biodiversity were implemented by
the project’s developer, Hydrolancang.
Civil society in Cambodia had very little reaction from
Hydrolancang, despite sending invitations to meetings and letters
to the company. This has resulted in much frustration from the
environmental and social NGO community in Cambodia and
has negatively impacted the international reputation of the
company. For example, 18 civil society organizations recently
issued a statement to the company demanding that a new EIA
be completed and information be released on the Lower Sesan
2 Dam redesign. The statement follows letters prepared in May
2014 to the company outlining their concerns about the project
that has gone without response since then.

4.4 Lessons Learned
The Lower Sesan 2 Project is the first overseas investment
project undertaken by Hydrolancang. The company relied on
the judgment of the Cambodia Government and its local project
partner, Royal Group, particularly in the areas of resettlement
and community relations management. Hydrolancang does
not have experience in managing the mitigation of significant
environmental and social impacts, and has tended to trust its
project partners to do a good job. Problematic in all 3 case studies
was the focus of mitigation activities on the reservoir area rather

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

29

than the downstream and upstream impacts, which can be
transboundary in nature.
The project developers should halt the project construction and
turn their attention to resolving key environmental and social
issues. The project developers should develop and implement
proper compensation measures for biodiversity protection before
the project’s impacts are irreversible. These measures must extend
beyond the reservoir area, and attend to the project’s significant
upstream and downstream impacts.79 As shown in contrasting the
Manwan and Nuozhadu cases studies, compensation measures
for the loss of habitat, biodiversity or fishery have to be planned in
advance and properly budgeted, because compensation measures
need to be implemented before the loss or threats have happened
and usually require extra land and budget for implementation.
In the area of social impacts, the full scale of impacts must be
properly acknowledged. People who have only farmland (not
dwellings) inundated should also be counted in the resettlement
plan. This is the standard required by Chinese resettlement
law and was the approach adopted in Nuozhadu. The Dam’s
developers should also conduct a proper impact assessment on
the cultural sites and resources including the spiritual forests and
ancestral burial lands, and develop compensation plan for the
cultural losses. This assessment and compensation plan should
extend beyond the resettlement villages and cover all the villages
living around the reservoir, downstream and upstream areas,
whose cultural sites are subject to impacts from construction,
inundation and operation. Further, communities whose
food security will be negatively impacted must be supported.
Livelihood restoration for all those impacted must also be
addressed. The loss of livelihoods due to the dam include loss of
fishery, loss of agricultural lands, decreased productivity of new
farmland, loss of irrigation water, loss of income from tourism
and boat transportation, loss of easy access to forests, and loss of
natural resources for livestock. All these losses should be evaluated
and properly compensated before the project moves forward.
Lower Sesan 2’s Project developers should develop a detailed plan
about how to support new livelihoods. The support should at least
include monetary compensation, technical training, and provision
of resources for establishing new livelihoods, provided by the
Project developers and the Cambodian Government.

30

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

31

Annex 1: Questionnaire for Communities
Affected by Lower Sesan 2 Dam
Section A
1.

How does your community use the river? Washing? Bathing? Cooking? Fishing? Transportation? Traditional medicine? Traditional
ceremonies?

2. What is most important to you about the river?
3. Have you heard about Lower Sesan 2 Dam? If so, what are the benefits and impacts you have heard? Do you have any concerns?

Section B: Biodiversity and Livelihoods
4. Do you fish for consumption or for sale (if for sale, where are you selling it to and how much are you getting? If for consumption,
how often do you eat fish? )
5. What are the most important fish (species) to your community?
6. For each fish species:
Fish Name:
How do you catch this fish?

Do you catch them for eating or for
selling? If selling how much?
Where do you catch them (looking for
riverine habitat descriptions, like river
bank, in the middle of a river (on a boat),
small rivers.)
At what time of year do you catch them?
If a specific time of year: what is the river
like at that time? (High or low)
Do you know when they reproduce? Or
when do fish have eggs in their body
cavities?
Do you know what this type food this fish
eats?
Do these fish use floodplain/riparian
features during high season flows?
Do these fish migrate up or downstream?
If so, when? Do you know where the
spawning grounds are for these species?
Has the number of fish changed over the
years? Has the size of individuals that you
catch changed over the years?
Do you notice any relationship between
the number of fish and the amount of
water in the river (both within a year and
between years; could also say ‘what
happens to the fish catch during very dry
years and during very wet years).

32

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

Fish Name:

Fish Name:

7.

What other animals are important to your community?
Do they use the river and, if so, how?

8. What tree or plant species are particularly valuable to you?

Where do these trees or plants grow in relation to the river?

Where do the seedlings occur?
9. Where do you farm?

Do you have riverbank gardens?

What do you grow?
10. What are the main income sources of your family?
a. Farming and selling agriculture products?
b. Selling fishes?
c. Tourism?
d. Weaving?
e. Other?

Section C: Cultural Impacts
11. What is your ethnic or cultural identity? Are you a member of an indigenous group? Are other members of your
village members of indigenous or ethnic minority groups (if so, which ones).
12. Will the project have an impact on places or practices that are sacred or of cultural importance to your community?
Eg. spirit homes, ancestor’s burial grounds, community forests, other places that are important to your community.
13. Do you think the project will affect your community’s culture, beliefs and traditions? Your identity as a community?
If so, how?

Section D: Resettlement and Compensation
14. Where did you receive information about project’s progress, resettlement and compensation?
a. Village meetings with the government and/or company
b. Village head
c. Company officials
d. Government officials
e. Other:
What is the form you receive the information
a. verbally at meetings including from the government resettlement committee, company or village leadership
b. verbally from other villagers (not the village head)
c. written from the company or government authorities
d. written from the newspaper or other media sources such as radio?
15. Have you attended any public consultation meetings the dam company or government organized since the Chinese
company took over the project in the end of 2012? How many times and when?
16. Would you describe the meetings as negative or positive?
Were you given information in the meeting?

What kind of information was received (negative or positive)?

Did you have a chance to express concerns and ask questions?
17. How do you feel about the resettlement and compensation plan that you are being offered, based on the information
you have received?

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

33

Resettlement and Compensation Package Checklist
Items
Will the company provide compensation for:
Main houses

Ancillary buildings (eg grain stores, toilets,
kitchen buildings, etc)

Moving cost

Fruit trees and valuable plantation trees

Farmland (eg. rice paddy, vegetable gardens, etc)

Other valuable community land/resources (eg.
spirit forest, religious sites, etc)

34

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

Yes or No

Description of the
Item (if relevant)

Price promised

Livelihoods support (eg cash compensation,
aquaculture, grains, tourism support, etc)

Regarding new resettlement area: will the company build the following items and how much will they pay for them?

Yes or No

Company will
build?

Company to pay
villagers to build

Resettlement area site preparation

Main houses
Ancillary buildings (eg grain stores, toilets,
kitchen buildings, etc)
Provide individual household water supply
Provide individual electricity supply
Provide individual household waste water
drainage
Other things:
Public clinic, school, wat etc

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

35

Notes
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36

SAME COMPANY, TWO DAMS, ONE RIVER

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