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, have a deep connection to this fresh water ecosystem and have longstanding knowledge, practices and norms that are critical to their fishing livelihoods. However due to the rapid development of hydropower in the Mekong Basin, fishing livelihoods are becoming increasingly complicated by environmental impacts. Many households and communities are thus diversifying their livelihoods in an effort to adapt to the associated ecological and socio-economic changes in their regions. There is a large literature on the impacts of hydroelectric development in the region, however, there has been limited research on diversifications and how they vary spatially; there has also been little research focused on community-based resource management including roles and use and how they have changed in the context of hydroelectric development. To address these gaps an exploratory case study was carried out in the nine communities of Baan Hua, Hew #11, Baan Hua Hew #4, Baan Na Choom Chon, Baan Huay Mak Tai, Baan Kho Tai, Baan Don Sumran, Baan Wangsabang Tai, Baan Thalat and Baan Doom Yai in the Mun and Sebok river areas since the implementation of the Pak Mun Dam. Twenty-six semi-structured interviews were conducted in this area in an effort to better understand historical fishing practices and diversifications in livelihoods that have taken place over the last two decades. Additionally, an examination of the rules and practices of these communities are taken into account. To better understand how households and communities are coping with changes in their livelihoods and local aquatic ecosystems, research was also carried out to learn more about rules in use; specifically, what kinds of rules and practices have been developed to ensure both social and ecological sustainability? This research, therefore, has been conducted in the hopes of providing useful and important details about community diversifications and experiences, as well as potentially contribute to the literature needed to address the lack of Local Ecological Knowledge in terms of policy change in this region.

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