Date: Ongoing · Country: Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand · Photos: Thomas Cristofoletti & Nicolas Axelrod
The Mekong ("Mother of Water" in Laotian) is the lifeblood of Southeast Asia. The river runs for four thousand kilometres between the narrow gorges of Tibet through the mountains of Burma and Laos, taking force through the plains of Thailand and Cambodia, to flow into the immense delta in Vietnam and into the South China Sea. In its waters live 1000s of species of fish, which are integral in feeding over 60 million people. Stories and traditions tell of a harmony between the people of Indochina and the Mother of Water.
Today, thirty-nine mega-dams have been planned along the river by riparian states. Colossal power plants, some already under construction, could fragment natural environments and have significant impacts throughout the region. Eleven dams have been scheduled in the Laotian-Cambodian section alone, built by Thai, Malay, Chinese and Vietnamese companies. Laos, the poorest of the states in the region, has declared that its goal is to become the "battery of Southeast Asia”.
None of these constructions have been carried out with a prior independent environmental impact assessment.
This selection of pictures tells of the impact of these omissions on the environment, on people, and on food security in the entire region.