Continental Southeast Asia is home to some major river systems, including the Irrawaddy, the Mekong, the Red and the Salween. These rivers are being developed at breakneck speed to provide energy, food, and economic growth to one of the fastest growing parts of the world. Ensuring that this development not only benefits people equally, but does so in a way that guarantees long term ecological and economic sustainability will require a more system wide approach that looks beyond country borders and considers large scale river basins as a whole. Realizing the potentials of this large scale reservoir management means supporting long-term change and the ability to bring different groups together to approach the challenges collaboratively.
Promoting benefit sharing and dialogue
Sharing the benefits from rapid hydropower development in the Greater Mekong is critical to equitable and sustainable growth. Communities that are resettled to make space for these massive infrastructure projects must make major adjustments to their way of life.
One past project explored the possibility of using the highly fertile land that is exposed around the edges of reservoirs during the dry season to grow cassava. By introducing a new fast growing strain, the project was able to improve community livelihoods and food security by mitigating the threat of losing crops to flooding. [read more]
Another project has worked to improve the knowledge base of communities facing resettlement in Cambodia. By organizing trainings, meetings and a study tour to Lao resettlement communities, the project has worked to empower villages who will lose their homes so they can have a say in where they will be relocated and how the process will proceed.