Largest dam heralds 'new era' for poor Laos: ADB

December 9, 2010
This handout picture released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on December 9, 2010 shows the Nam Theun 2 power station located in Laos' Khammouane province. The largest hydropower project in poverty-stricken Laos has opened a "new era" in the country's development, the ADB said Thursday.

The largest hydropower project in poverty-stricken Laos has opened a "new era" in the country's development, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said Thursday.

"The importance of this hydroelectric project to the Lao economy cannot be overemphasised," Haruhiko Kuroda, the ADB president, said at a ceremony to formally inaugurate the Nam Theun 2 power station.

It signals "a new era for growth, development and poverty reduction" in the country, according to a statement from the bank.

After five years of construction and development costs of more than 1.4 billion dollars, the plant began supplying neighbouring Thailand with power in March.

The project on the Nam Theun River, a tributary of the Mekong, will contribute two billion dollars to the Lao treasury over its first 25 years of operation, according to the company operating the facility.

With a generating capacity of 1,070 , the development is jointly owned by communist Laos, Electricite de France, and the Electricity Generating Public Company of Thailand.

"Funds are earmarked for primary education and health service improvement, rural electrification, and other nationwide poverty alleviation programmes," said the ADB.

This handout picture released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on December 9, 2010 shows a woman walking near the Nam Theun 2 power station located in Laos' Khammouane province. After five years of construction and development costs of more than 1.4 US billion dollars, the plant began supplying neighbouring Thailand with power in March.

According to an advance copy of his speech, Kuroda said the project will also reduce Laos's dependence on international aid and contribute to deeper integration of the surrounding Greater Mekong area.

Laos, a rural-based society highly reliant on foreign donors, has a population of about six million.

The ADB said the power project will contribute seven to nine percent of the country's national budget and approximately three percent of (GDP) growth.

GDP last year was almost 5.6 billion dollars.

However, environmentalists have long-opposed the Nam Theun 2 project.

US-based watchdog International Rivers says there are still questions about the sustainability of livelihoods for the more than 6,000 villagers relocated for the dam, and tens of thousands more downstream.

"It's way too early to call this project a success," said Ikuko Matsumoto, Lao programme director for the group.

The ADB said the vast majority of relocated villagers consider their lives better.

"There are, of course, still challenges ahead to ensure sustainable livelihoods for affected people, monitor and respond to downstream impacts and protect the watershed area, which represents one of the few remaining wildernesses in the planet," Kuroda said.

Explore further: Camera-shy deer caught for first time

Related Stories

Camera-shy deer caught for first time

July 24, 2007

A little-known species of deer called a large-antlered muntjac has been photographed for the first time in the wild, according to a survey team from the Nam Theun 2 Watershed Management and Protection Authority (WMPA) and ...

Study: SE Asia will be hit hard by climate change

April 27, 2009

(AP) -- Southeast Asia will be hit particularly hard by climate change, causing the region's agriculture-dependent economies to contract by as much as 6.7 percent annually by the end of the century, according to a study ...

UN study advises caution over dams

May 21, 2009

(AP) -- A dam-building spree in China poses the greatest threat to the future of the already beleaguered Mekong, one of the world's major rivers and a key source of water for the region, a U.N. report said Thursday.

Indonesia aims to tap volcano power

April 24, 2010

Indonesia has launched an ambitious plan to tap the vast power of its volcanoes and become a world leader in geothermal energy, while trimming greenhouse gas emissions.

Water-related conflicts set to escalate

April 30, 2010

Population growth, urbanisation, increasing pollution, soil erosion and climate variations are all reflected in the management and adequacy of the world's waters. The situation is particularly difficult in many developing ...

Georgia looks to tap hydropower potential

October 4, 2010

Georgia is hoping to tap into its abundance of high mountains and fast-flowing rivers to transform a country that once suffered from repeated blackouts into a regional hydro-electric superpower.

Recommended for you

How to curb emissions? Put a price on carbon

September 3, 2015

Literally putting a price on carbon pollution and other greenhouse gasses is the best approach for nurturing the rapid growth of renewable energy and reducing emissions.

Customizing 3-D printing

September 3, 2015

The technology behind 3-D printing is growing more and more common, but the ability to create designs for it is not. Any but the simplest designs require expertise with computer-aided design (CAD) applications, and even for ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.