Mekong: Dialogue with Community Groups

The Mekong River traverses six countries and over 4,300 km. Diverse stakeholders hold multiple, overlapping, and sometimes competing interests, often yielding tensions and conflicts over the priorities and processes of river governance.

The Institute of Water Policy, along with its research partners, Cambodia Development Resource Institute (CDRI) and NGO Forum have captured the voices of two different community groups from Stung Treng, a Cambodian province affected by the development of Lower Sesan 2 hydropower dam.

Kbal Romeas village, Male: “This resin tree is one kind of forest product that provides us with income and light. We will lose these resin trees once the hydropower dam is constructed.”


Kbal Romeas village, Female: “The river is a place for family fishing. We will lose fish for daily consumption because they will become extinct if the dam is constructed.”

Fishing in the Mekong


Kbal Romeas village, Male: “The gong is a traditional musical instrument used in indigenous people’s cultural practices; it will lose its identity and significance if the dam is built.”



Srae Kor village, Female: “My sister’s house is well-furnished. She has been asked to abandon her house, but she doesn’t want to move to a new place.”

House in a Cambodian village


Srae Kor village, Male: This is a pagoda named “Ponleur Samaki” – meaning solidarity light – that has existed in my village since the early days, and we do not want to lose it. It represents our religion.

Pagoda in a Cambodian village


Srae Kor village, Male: “The dam company’s excavator dredges sand from Srae Kor’s spiritual area.”
Sand excavation in the Mekong


Local people expressed their concerns through photography. Most participants actively engaged in a discussion to illustrate the photos they had taken and express their feelings and ideas about forced resettlement due to the dam development in Stung Treng. The photos presented here show that the impact of hydrodam development on local communities. Villagers’ livelihoods are tightly interwoven with local traditions, values and beliefs that may not be readily quantifiable in economic values or compensable in monetary terms.

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