The Khone Phapheng Falls, a popular tourist attraction at Siphandone

Don Sahong Dam

The planned Don Sahong Dam spells disaster for Mekong fish. Located in the Siphandone (Khone Falls) area of southern Laos, less than two kilometers upstream of the Laos-Cambodia border, the dam would block the main channel passable year-round by fish migrating between Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, threatening vital subsistence and commercial fisheries in the Lower Mekong Basin.

At Siphandone, the Mekong River drops some 20 to 30 meters through a maze of narrow channels and rapids that weave amongst the area’s many islands (see map). Recognizing the global biodiversity value of Siphandone’s unique island-river habitat, the Lao government has considered proposing the area as a RAMSAR Wetland of International Importance. The Don Sahong Dam, however, threatens Siphandone’s eligibility and the benefits that RAMSAR status would bring.

If built, the Don Sahong Dam would divert water from the spectacular Khone Phapheng waterfall. The project would also jeopardize the survival of Laos’ last remaining permanent population of endangered Irrawaddy Dolphins, whose habitat is located immediately downstream. By threatening these popular tourist attractions, the dam would undermine the increasing popularity of the Siphandone area as a tourist destination.

Local people have received misleading and incomplete information about the likely impacts of the dam from the project’s developers, Mega First Corporation Berhad of Malaysia. People downstream in Cambodia have received even less information about the project.

The Don Sahong Dam just doesn’t add up. For at most only 260 MW of electricity for export to Thailand or Cambodia, the dam threatens vital Mekong River fisheries and the area's biological wealth, and would undermine food security and the region’s fishery- and tourism-based economy. International Rivers is working with groups throughout the Mekong Region and internationally to protect the Siphandone area from this destructive project.


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