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Cambodia: Environmentalists warn of potential risks from hydropower dam construction

Author: Eijas Ariffin, The ASEAN Post, Published on: 6 February 2019

"Are Cambodia’s hydropower plans risky?", 5 February 2019

…, Cambodia’s electricity consumption over the past decade has skyrocketed. In a report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF),…

… With the Mekong River flowing through the country, it is no coincidence that hydropower is Cambodia’s main source of energy accounting for more than 40 percent of total electricity generation.

…, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen launched the country’s newest hydropower scheme. The 400-megawatt Lower Sesan 2 is said to have cost US$780 million to build and was backed by Chinese funding.

This project is not the only one backed by Chinese money in Cambodia. As part of China’s massive Belt and Road Initiative…

Cambodia’s reliance on hydropower for its energy needs could have a detrimental effect on the country… There is also a growing concern that the construction of these dams could have an adverse impact on the Mekong river. Construction of dams along the Mekong raises immediate risks for fisheries, farming, and food security in Cambodia…

... Environmentalists warn that around 5,000 people, mostly from vulnerable indigenous groups could be displaced by the project. International Rivers, … has said that the dam will have a “costly catastrophic impact on the Mekong River's fisheries and biodiversity".

The Cambodian government is aware of the potential problems associated with hydropower. According to Nao Thuok, a Secretary of State at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the government is currently operating on projections of a 16 to 30 percent drop in fish biomass…

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