By 2030, multi-national developers plan to construct 11 dams on the Mekong river mainstream, and 77 dams on its tributaries, in an effort to meet the growing demand for electricity in Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Electricity demand is already intense, and growing. According to a 2010 hydropower assessment report commissioned by the Mekong River Commission (MRC) - an inter-governmental agency shared by Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam - Vietnam and Thailand account for the majority of electricity consumption today and will account for 96 percent of power demand in the Lower Mekong Basin (which consists of Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam) by 2025.
With its fish-heavy diet, Cambodia will feel the crunch of the dams as water courses change and fish migration routes are blocked. Attempts to change agricultural practices and diets face major challenges in the fish-dependent country.
A 2013 study led by Cambodia’s Ministry of Fisheries showed that Cambodians eat on average 173 grams of fish per day; the world’s average is five grams. Consumption could drop to 80g per person per day by 2030, the report argued, due to the construction of the dams...