Mekong River dams ‘will harm food security’

The Nation

Hydropower development on the Mekong River will aggravate food insecurity and poverty in the region and reverse the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a study says.

Environmental and social specialists of Mekong River Commission (MRC) warned during the third MRC International Conference in Siem Reap, Cambodia, that hydropower dam development in the Mekong River was expected to ravage the river basin with severe environmental and socioeconomic impacts.

Thailand was expected to suffer the most economically and ecologically, the report said.

The results of research on the scenarios of full scale hydropower dam development on the Mekong River show that fish biomass and biodiversity will be gravely harmed and diminished, causing a food shortage, malnutrition, and lower income among poor people driving them further into poverty. This outweighs  the economic benefits from hydropower and consequent investment.

Mekong River Commission Secretariat (MRCS) socioeconomic specialist Nguyen Thi Ngoc Minh said that the scenarios for 2020 and 2040 showed that if hydropower dam development in the Mekong River continues as planned, the economic benefits to the region would be overshadowed by the adverse impacts of the development.

“Development plans contribute to the economy of the region, as hydropower is expected to generate nearly half of the combined economic benefits from other sectors,  but it would cause greater impacts to other sectors as well,” Minh said.

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