Impacts of Hydroelectric Development on Local Communities: The Mun River

About the Author

Amabel d’Souza

M.Sc. Graduate in Risk and Community Resilience at the University of Alberta

Supervisor: Brenda Parlee

Collaboration with: Treaty 8 Tribal Association / Ubon Ratchathani University

Research Topic: Diversification of Livelihoods in a Region Impacted by Hydroelectric Development: A Case Study in the Lower Mekong (Mun River/Sebok River)

Local people living along The Mun River and its tributaries, such as the Sebok River, hold a deep connection to the freshwater ecosystem and have longstanding traditional practices that are critical to their fishing livelihoods. These traditions and practices have been passed down over many generations and are based on well-developed local knowledge of their environment and communities. However, due to the rapid development of hydropower in the Mekong Basin, fishing livelihoods are becoming increasingly complicated by environmental impacts to aquatic ecosystems. Many households and communities are thus diversifying their livelihoods to survive. This thesis explores how local villagers in fishing communities on the Mun River and its tributary, the Sebok River, in Thailand, diversify their livelihoods and show resilience to the effects of hydroelectric development. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in nine villages to collect themes and opinions on the operation of the Pak Mun Dam, a controversial dam located near the confluence of the Mekong and Mun Rivers, and its effects on communities over the past twenty-five years. Emerging themes from the interviews showcase the importance of fish and fishing livelihood, culture, diversifications, community and connection to the land. These themes relate to existing theory and demonstrate the importance of Traditional Knowledge, resilience and well-being. The information presented in this thesis also showcases how Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) can be utilized towards community-based resource management and community involvement in decision-making regarding hydroelectric development.

Thesis available at https://doi.org/10.7939/r3-9kwy-8738

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