Laos: Nam Theun 2 dam impacts communities in Xe Bang Fai River region



 Country: Laos

Project name: Nam Theun 2 Dam


Capacity: 1,075 MW

Companies involved: Formerly owned by international consortium Nam Theun 2 Power (EDF, Electricity Generating Public Company, and Italthai). Now sole owner is EDF. Funded by World Bank.

This section briefly summarises key concerns about the projects. See below for companies’ responses to those concerns, wherever available:

In November 2004, Friends of the Earth, Proyecto Gato, and 56 other NGOs filed a complaint to the French National Contact Point (NCP) against EDF for their non-compliance to the OECD Guidelines in their development of the Nam Theun 2 dam. The NGOs accused EDF of not conducting a detailed environmental impact assessment. EDF responded to this complaint, and stated that the dam would bring economic opportunities to the local population. The French NCP concluded that there was no violation of the OECD Guidelines but gave recommendations to EDF. The NCP encouraged the company to continue to implement compensatory measures, and suggested that when operating in countries with weak environmental and social laws, companies should apply internationally recognised good practices they abide by in their home countries. In 2007, EDF, the World Bank, and the Laotian government had promised to double the income of those families who were displaced by the dam, within four years.

However, International Rivers has since accused Nam Theun 2 Power for not properly consulting the affected villagers. The project was allegedly preventing the locals from accessing water and was destroying critical food sources. They also found that the 6200 people who were displaced, and though they now have better local infrastructure, still struggle from the loss of their traditional livelihoods.  Environmental NGOs urged international development banks to review their support for the Nam Theun 2 dam. The World Bank’s rating for the project’s overall implementation progress is now “moderately unsatisfactory” and the level of overall risk is “high”.

The Resettlement Implementation Period was closed in July 2018, following the recommendation of the Panel of Experts. The World Bank Nam Theun 2 Social and Environment project closed on December 31, 2017. The independent international Environmental and Social Panel of Experts visited Lao PDR for their 28th mission in June-July 2018.

Company responses:

Further information: