November 25, 2014: A group community representatives from 12 villages in Stung Treng province came together for a press conference facilitated by the NGO Forum on Cambodia and River Coalition of Cambodia to call for the cancellation of the Lower Sesan II (LS2) Dam Project which is being constructed in the Stung Treng Province.
The press conference was conducted after the community representatives handed a joint statement prepared by the community to the Samdech Akeak Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin, the President of Cambodian National Assembly (NA) on the same day in the morning.
The main purposes of the press conference was to circulate information about the joint statement submission to the NA, to share concerns over the dams’ negative impacts to the communities living around and along the river to the public, media, especially the government, and urge a proper solution from decision makers over the issue.
“For the last 10 years, we experienced a lot of bad impacts from Yali Dam and other dams which were built in Vietnam, on the upper river. We have learned about the all the problems that the dams have caused our livelihood and living condition. If the dam construction blocks the natural streaming of the river, fish will not be able to travel back and forth , plus the water quality will be effected and we will not be able to use it for either showering or drinking,” Ms. Foy Shot, community representative from Vern Sai district, Rattanakiri, province. “We, the representatives of all the 12 villages, do not need the dam. We need our peaceful lives back. Please remember, fish is life and treasure.”
The LS2 Dam, which is situated on Sesan River, Sesan District, Stung Treng province, is now in the final stage of its construction. Recent reports have alluded to significant alterations to the design of the LS2 dam, aimed at reducing the impacts of the project. However, no information has been made available to affected communities and the public regarding the proposed design changes, mitigation measures, or the operation plans for these measures.
A 2009 study commissioned by the Rivers Coalition of Cambodia (RCC) found that, as a result of the LS2 dam, approximately 80,000 people in the Sesan and Srepok basins will lose a large portion of their fish catch. Furthermore, changes in water quality and hydrology will devastate an additional 20,000 people along the Sesan and Sekong rivers. The loss of fisheries, a vital source of nutrition and livelihoods, will affect hundreds of thousands of people along the Mekong River and its tributaries and in the Tonle Sap.
Subsequent scientific analysis predicts a 9.3% decrease in fish biomass across entire Mekong River Basin, changes to water flows in the Sesan and Mekong Rivers and Tonle Sap Lake, and a 6-8% reduction in sediment flows. These impacts will severely effect fisheries, agriculture and ecosystems, not only in Cambodia, but also in the neighbouring countries of Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
“We, the Pu Nong indigenous people who used to live happily and are satisfied with our natural resources, culture and traditions, are now very worried about the loss of heritage from our ancestors because of the LS2 construction that is expected to finish by January 2015. We are against the relocation plan from our holy area, since we do not want to lose connection with our descendants, traditions and cultures.” Mr. Kem Doeung, villager from Kbal Romeas, Steng Treng said
The targeted villagers that need to relocate due to the LS2 Dam project are mostly the indigenous people such as Pu Nong, Charay, Kreng, Prov and Laos.
Click here to download the Community Joint Statement in Khmer and English