Damming of the Mekong: Thai Villagers Lament a River in Crisis

Large numbers of people here in the dry northeast region of Thailand bordering Laos and Cambodia, a region known as Isaan, are facing the consequences of changes in the natural rhythms of the Mekong River wrought by the construction in recent years of dams upstream in China and Laos.

The dams have brought drought in the monsoon season and high waters when it should be dry, changing the lives of the many in the northeast of the country who depend on the river for food and work.

Moreover, the hydropower plans for the Mekong have only begun, as China leads the dam charge with an eye on both the economic rewards and geopolitical advantage of controlling the key waterway.

That has left one of the world’s great rivers, flowing for 5,000 kilometers from China through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam in retreat and decimating local fishing catches.

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Vijitra Duangdee