More Southeast Asian Dam Disasters Likely Unless Funders Ensure Higher Standards

The Lao dam disaster in July that resulted in heavy flooding in two provinces that left at least 40 people dead and displaced 7,000 others has drawn both regional and international attention to the potential dangers of Southeast Asia’s current dam-building spree.

With plans for 11 large dams either proposed or under construction on the mainstream of the lower Mekong River in Laos and Cambodia, and for about 140 dams on Mekong tributaries in Laos, more disasters are likely to occur, experts say.

Some observers of the hydropower boom have expressed concern over whether project funders and donor countries, also known as international development partners, could be doing more to ensure that dam builders and governments adhere to construction and technical standards to avert disasters from shoddy or questionable work that has profound social and environmental impacts.

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