New film explores trade-offs between food and hydropower in Cambodia

22 November 2013

A new, short film titled Hydropower Impacts and Alternatives was released in Cambodia this month, focusing on the potentially harmful effects and unintended consequences of the ongoing and future development of 42 dams in Cambodia’s 3-S basin within the Greater Mekong River system. Recognizing the importance of hydropower to Cambodia’s economic development, but also warning about threats to fisheries and food security for the country’s people, the scientific community is using the film and the data within it to recommend a moratorium on the planned dams in the 3-S basin until a more thorough impact assessment can be made and tradeoffs or consequences can be determined.

Produced by Conservation International (CI), this film was developed thanks to new data provided by the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. The filmmaker Allan Michaud has produced various documentaries on Cambodia’s wildlife and conservation issues. The film highlights the role of the Sekong, Srepok, and Sesan (3-S) Rivers as the three most critical tributaries feeding into the Lower Mekong River. Collectively, they provide major routes for migrating fish and essential water and sediment flows to the downstream floodplains including those that nourish the Tonle Sap Lake, one of the most productive inland fisheries on the planet. The film also investigates the rapid hydropower development, and examines how this is altering the way the 3-S rivers deliver their ecosystem services to the people of this region.

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