World Bank support for Laos Mega Dam is highly risky
Paris ( France ) / Bangkok ( Thailand ) – Two days ahead of a key vote by the Asian Development Bank, Friends of the Earth International today condemned the World Bank’s March 31 approval of the controversial ‘Nam Theun 2’ hydroelectric dam in Laos .
Friends of the Earth International
4 April, 2005
The Asian Development Bank will vote on April 4 to decide if it will finance this ‘mega dam’ as well.
This is the first mega dam financed by the World Bank in more than ten years and illustrates the Bank’s new “high risk high rewards” strategy decided in 2003 to justify its new implication in big infrastructure projects.
The risks of the Nam Theun 2 dam are huge and benefits are uncertain. The World Bank’s reputation, already severely tarnished by dam projects in the past, is at stake. More importantly, the livelihoods of more than 100,000 local farmers are at risk. The French development agency (AFD) and export credit agency (Coface) and several French private banks are involved in this project.
According to Sebastien Godinot from Friends of the Earth France, “this risky and complex project will not benefit poor people. In such an opaque and undemocratic context, benefits will more probably go to the country’s elite and to foreign companies – like the French electricity giant EDF that leads this project – as in past dam projects.“
“Our analysis of this project shows many failures, but our proposals have not been seriously taken into account. We will closely monitor the implementation, because local populations have no right of recourse.” “This mega dam has huge consequences for the whole Mekong river basin. Fifty million people live in the area and depend on the 1,300 fish species of the Mekong and its tributaries. But the Nam Theun 2 will destroy the ecosystems of two tributaries,” he added.
The 1,3 billion dollar (minimum) project must be completed by 2009. Ninety percent of the energy generated (1070 MW) will be exported to Thailand. 450 square kilometres will be flooded by the reservoir, displacing 6,200 people and affecting more than 100,000 more people downstream.
For more information contact :
In Thailand :
Khun Witoon Pemrpongsacharoen, Terra, + 66 02 691071820 or email: or
In Europe :
Longgena Ginting, Friends of the Earth International, Tel: +31-61884635 or email:
Sebastien Godinot Friends of the Earth France, Tel: +33 6 68 98 83 41 (mobile) + 33 1 48 51 18 92 (office) or email