Thursday, March 31, 2011

WRM Bulletin on big dams

World Rainforest Movement - Monthly Bulletin - Issue 164 - March 2011


In the month of the International Day of Action against Dams and for
Rivers, Water and Life and World Water Day the issue of large dams
comes to the fore. The ever increasing need of energy for ever
increasing industries is playing havoc on the Earth�s health and on
the present and future lives of thousands of peoples.

Construction of huge dams for hydropower is at a high cost: living
rivers are turned into artificial lakes, extensive areas of peoples'
homelands and livelihoods are flooded, and ecosystems are destroyed
and fragmented.

The energy thus generated does not benefit the vast majority of
people; it feeds an energy intensive pattern of production and
commerce that sustains the high consumption of minority sectors in the

This bulletin is a collective effort to denounce and highlight the
destructive impacts of huge dams with the hope of contributing to the
creation of a new path of energy consumption and production.


The devastating effects of tsunamis, big hydroelectric dams and other
�clean� energies <#1>


Greenwashing Hydropower <#2>

Brazil: Belo Monte dam would turn the Xing� River into a river of
blood <#3>

Mekong dams heat up the region <#4>

Brazil: Discrimination and violence against women in the construction
of hydroelectric dams <#5>

DRC: INGA dams for big business <#6>

Actions against dams around the world <#7>



- The devastating effects of tsunamis, big hydroelectric dams and
other �clean� energies

Over the last decade, as the effects of climate change have become
increasingly visible, there has been a lot of talk from big companies,
banks and governments about promoting �clean� energy projects �
meaning energy that is not produced from fossil fuels.

As a result, a number of countries have, for example, been developing
or expanding nuclear power production.

Obviously, the first thing this brings to mind today is the tragedy
suffered by the Japanese people, with whose plight we deeply
sympathize. The recent earthquake and tsunami that triggered the
current nuclear disaster in Japan clearly illustrate that the reality
faced by the Japanese people in connection with the Fukushima nuclear
power plant is a far cry from what could genuinely be viewed as clean

At the same time, investments in another supposedly �clean�
energy source have also been stepped up significantly over the last 10
years: the construction of dams to produce hydroelectric power.

This is the theme of this month�s bulletin, in light of the fact
that March 14 is the International Day of Action against Dams and for
Rivers, Water and Life, while March 22 is World Water Day. Numerous
articles in this issue demonstrate that the new wave of supposedly
�clean� hydroelectric power production is nothing more than talk.
In practice, it has been clearly shown that the serious negative
impacts continue in the new dam projects planned and those already in

A number of key points are especially worth considering. First, there
is a continued emphasis on large-scale hydroelectric dams, which
obviously cause large-scale impacts. One example is the destruction of
significant areas of native forests. As such, these large dams remain
one of the direct causes of deforestation.

Second, hydroelectric dams continue destroying the livelihoods of
families who live near the rivers while producing energy that
doesn�t benefit them in any way. Instead these dams serve to supply
electricity to distant urban centres and, above all, to high
energy-consuming industries. For example, in the Mekong delta in
Southeast Asia, the construction of large-scale dams threatens the
food security of local communities, which depends on the fish they are
able to catch freely from the river today. What�s more, riverside
communities are often forced to migrate to cities, towards an
uncertain future. Governments claim that they are raising these people
out of a situation of �poverty� and offering them a new future of
�progress�. But the reality tends to be very different:
hydroelectric dams generate greater poverty and have significant
negative impacts both on the human population, especially women, and
on the environment.

Third, hydroelectric power is in no way �clean� if we consider
the problem of global warming and climate change. Greenhouse gas
emissions produced by dam projects stem from several different
sources. The trees cut down to make way for hydropower projects as
well as those that die when the area is flooded release carbon dioxide
into the atmosphere. In addition, the submerged trees and other
vegetation decompose and produce another greenhouse gas, methane,
which is mainly released through the dam�s turbines and spillways.
According to studies, methane could have 25 to 34 times more of an
impact on the climate than carbon dioxide. It should be stressed that
this particular impact is generally not considered in environmental
impact assessments (EIAs) of dam projects, such as the EIA conducted
for the Belo Monte dam in Brazil.(1) So it is clearly absurd to permit
the sale of carbon credits from hydroelectric power plant projects
through the �Clean� Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto

And if all of this were not enough, there are other studies, from
China for example, which show that large-scale dams could even
contribute to seismic stress, thus increasing the risk of earthquakes
and tsunamis.

Another highly trumpeted category of �clean� energy is energy
produced with so-called �biofuels� or agrofuels. This usually
involves the establishment of large-scale monoculture plantations of
different crops such as soybeans, oil palm and sugar cane. The
devastating social, economic and environmental impacts of plantations
like these have already been widely studied and demonstrated.

Ultimately, the tragedy in Japan will have even more tragic
consequences if investments in nuclear energy are shifted towards
investments in supposedly �cleaner� sources of energy, such as
large-scale monoculture plantations for agrofuel production or the
construction of more hydroelectric dams.

In conclusion, so-called �clean� energies are not clean when they
are produced on a large scale and have devastating effects of various
kinds. They end up resembling earthquakes and tsunamis when they
destroy people�s lives. And in the meantime, they continue to
increase corporate profits. It should be stressed that big
hydroelectric dams, like large-scale agrofuel production and nuclear
power plants, continue to be major sources of profits for the
companies involved.

The logic behind the discourse of the defenders of these supposedly
�clean� energies is based on the principle that we need them to
maintain the present model of production, trade and consumption. It
has become clear that this model is socially and environmentally
unjust � in other words, it is a failed model. By promoting the use
of erroneously labelled �clean� energy without questioning the
current model, our governments continue working for the enrichment of
corporations while provoking suffering for millions of people from
current and future generations, given the deep and long-lasting
environmental impacts.

Moving in a completely different direction from the defenders of this
energy model, different small-scale local and regional energy
production initiatives tend to offer a more promising future. These
include initiatives controlled by organizations and social movements
which satisfy their basic needs without causing damages that
compromise the future of these populations and the environment.
However, these initiatives receive little or no financial support
compared with the vast sums of money that corporations and governments
receive and spend on genuinely dirty energies.

What is needed is a structural change in our energy model towards a
popular energy model, in which energy and water are considered basic
rights. As the Brazilian Movement of Dam-Affected People (MAB) rightly
declares, Water and Energy are Not Commodities!

(1) Fearnside, Philip. �Hidrel�tricas Amaz�nicas como Emissoras
de Gases de Efeito Estufa�. In: Revista Proposta, Year 35 � No.

index <#0>

- Greenwashing Hydropower

On a hot May day, a peasant farmer named Bounsouk looks out across
the vast expanse of water before him, the 450-square-kilometer
reservoir behind the new Nam Theun 2 dam in Laos. At the bottom of the
reservoir is the land where he once lived, grew rice, grazed buffalo,
and collected forest fruits, berries, and medicinal plants and spices.
Now there is just water, water everywhere.

�Before the flood I could grow enough rice to feed my family and I
had 10 buffalo,� he says. �I like our new houses and I like having
electricity in the new village, but we do not have enough land and the
soil quality is very poor. Now I can�t grow enough rice to feed my
family, and three of my buffalo died because they didn�t have enough

Bounsouk is one of 6,200 indigenous people whose lands were flooded
to make way for the Nam Theun 2 Hydropower Project in this small
Southeast Asian country. His story is one that is heard over and over
again in the project resettlement area. Though in certain places some
people may be happy with their new houses, electricity, and proximity
to the road, they are concerned about how they will feed their
families in the long term. The poor quality of land and lack of viable
income-generating options in this remote area make their prospects

Big dams have frequently imposed high social and environmental costs
and long-term economic trade-offs, such as lost fisheries and tourism
potential and flooded agricultural and forest land. According to the
independent World Commission on Dams, most projects have failed to
compensate affected people for their losses and adequately mitigate
environmental impacts. Local people have rarely had a meaningful say
in whether or how a dam is implemented, or received their fair share
of project benefits.

The permanent inundation of forests, wetlands and wildlife is perhaps
the most obvious ecological effect of a dam. Reservoirs have flooded
vast areas �more than 400,000 square kilometres have been lost
worldwide. Yet it is not only the amount of land lost which is
important, but also its quality: river and floodplain habitats are
some of the world's most diverse ecosystems. Plants and animals which
are closely adapted to valley bottom habitats can often not survive
along the edge of a reservoir. Dams also tend to be built in remote
areas which are the last refuge for species which have been displaced
by development in other regions. No one has any idea how many species
of plants and animals are now extinct because their last habitat was
flooded by a dam but the number is likely far from negligible. As well
as destroying habitat, reservoirs can also cut off migratory routes
across the valley and along the river. Because it isolates
populations, this ecosystem fragmentation also leads to the risks of
inbreeding from a smaller genetic pool.

Hydro Boom

The dam building industry is greenwashing hydropower with a public
relations offensive designed to convince the world that the next
generation of dams will provide additional sources of clean energy and
help to ease the effects of climate change. In some of the world�s
last great free-flowing-river basins, such as the Amazon, the Mekong,
the Congo, and the rivers of Patagonia, governments and industry are
pushing forward with cascades of massive dams, all under the guise of
clean energy.

Following a decade-long lull, a major resurgence in dam construction
worldwide is now under way, driven by infusions of new capital from
China, Brazil, Thailand, India, and other middle-income countries. In
particular, Chinese financial institutions have replaced the World
Bank as the largest funder of dam projects globally. Chinese banks and
companies are involved in constructing some 216 large dams
(�large� means at least 15 meters high, or between 5 and 15 meters
and with a reservoir capacity of at least 3 million cubic meters) in
49 different countries, particularly in Africa and Southeast Asia,
many with poor human rights records. A look at the heavy dam-building
activity in China, the Amazon basin, and Africa illustrates the risks

China. Half the world's large dams are within its borders, for which
China has paid a huge price. Chinese dams have displaced an estimated
23 million people, and dam breaks have killed approximately 300,000
people. Dams have also taken a huge toll on China's biodiversity,
causing fisheries to plummet, threatening the endangered giant Chinese
sturgeon, and driving species such as the baiji, or Yangtze River
Dolphin, to extinction.

Achieving the new plan's target would require building cascades of
dams on several rivers in China's Southwest and on the Tibetan Plateau
� regions that are inhabited by ethnic minorities, ecologically
fragile, rich in biodiversity, and seismically active. If the new plan
goes forward, it will irreversibly destroy China's great rivers and
biodiversity hotspots of global importance.

Under its new Five-Year Plan, the Chinese government proposes to
build 130-140 gigawatts of new hydropower plants. This equals more
than one new Three Gorges Dam every year for the next five years, and
is more than any other country has built in its entire history.

As a harbinger of the new trend, the Chinese government announced in
February 2011 that it would allow a dam cascade on the Nu River (or
Salween) � a pristine river which lies at the heart of a World
Heritage Site � to be built. China's premier had stopped these
projects in 2004 as a major victory for environmental groups. The
government has also agreed to shrink the most important fisheries
reserve on the Yangtze River so that a new hydropower scheme, the
Xiaonanhai Dam, can go forward. This project may sound the death knell
for the endangered giant Chinese sturgeon.

Around 30% of China's rivers are severely polluted with sewage,
agricultural and mining runoff, and industrial chemicals, and the
flows of some (such as the Yellow River) have been so dramatically
altered that they no longer reach the sea. Free-flowing rivers with
adequate oxygen and natural nutrient balances can remove or reduce the
toxicity of river contaminants, but dams compound pollution problems
by reducing rivers� ability to flush out pollutants and because the
reservoirs accumulate upstream contaminants and submerge vegetation,
which then rots. The water then released can be highly toxic and can
have significant ecological and human-health effects downstream.

The Three Gorges Dam, perhaps the world�s most notorious dam,
generates electricity equivalent to that of about 25 coal-fired power
stations. Yet the trade-offs involved are enormous. The project has
been plagued by corruption, spiraling costs, environmental
catastrophes, human rights violations, and resettlement difficulties.
To date, more than 1.3 million people have been moved to make way for
the dam. Hundreds of thousands of these people have received tiny,
barren plots of land or have been sent to urban slums with limited
cash compensation and housing. Those resettled in towns around the
edge of the Three Gorges reservoir have seen the shore of the
reservoir collapse in as many as 91 places, killing scores of people
and forcing whole villages to relocate. Protests have been met with
repression, including imprisonment and beatings.

The Three Gorges Dam is, unfortunately, the tip of the iceberg. In
southwest China, at least 114 dams on eight rivers in the region are
being proposed or are under development on major rivers, such as the
Lancang (Upper Mekong), the Nu (Upper Salween), and the Jinsha (Upper
Yangtze). Many of these projects are among the largest in the world,
with correspondingly serious impacts on river ecology, displacement of
hundreds of thousands of ethnic minority people, and concerns about
the safety of downstream communities. Several of the projects are in
or adjacent to the Three Parallel Rivers World Heritage Site,
threatening the ecological integrity of one of the most spectacular
and biologically rich areas of the world.

Of increasing concern is the potential for dams in Southwest China to
trigger earthquakes. Recent evidence has emerged that the devastating
7.9-magnitude Sichuan earthquake of May 2008, which killed an
estimated 90,000 people, may have been caused by the Zipingpu Dam. It
is well established that large dams can trigger earthquakes through
what is called reservoir-induced seismicity. Scientists believe that
there are more than 100 instances of reservoirs causing earthquakes
around the world. According to geophysical hazards researcher
Christian Klose of Columbia University, �The several hundred million
tons of water piled behind the Zipingpu Dam put just the wrong
stresses on the adjacent Beichuan fault.�

The Amazon. Under the guise of promoting cheap, clean energy,
Brazil�s dam builders are planning more than 100 dams in the Amazon.
Already two big dams are under construction on the Amazon�s
principal tributary, the Madeira, with several others in the licensing
process. Brazil�s electricity-sector bureaucrats say these will be
kinder, gentler dams with smaller reservoirs, designed to lessen
social and environmental impacts. Legislation has been introduced that
would fast-track the licensing of new dams in Amazonia and allow
projects to circumvent Brazil�s tough environmental laws, under the
pretext that they are of �strategic importance� to Brazil�s

By flooding large areas of rainforest, opening up new areas to
logging, and changing the flow of water, the scores of dams being
planned threaten to disturb the fragile water balance of the Amazon
and increase the drying of the forest, a process that is already
occurring due to climate change and extensive deforestation. New
research confirms the critical role the Amazon plays in regulating the
climate not only of South America, but also of parts of North America.
The transformation of extensive areas of the Amazon into drier
savannas would cause havoc with regional weather patterns. Lower
precipitation, in turn, would render many of the dams obsolete.

Meanwhile, mocking one of the dams� justifications, the greenhouse
gas emissions could be enormous. Amazonian dams are some of the
dirtiest on the planet; the Balbina Dam alone emits 10 times more
greenhouse gases (from rotting vegetation in the reservoir) than a
coal-fired plant of the same capacity. What�s more, the planned
projects would expel more than 100,000 river-bank dwellers from their
lands and seriously degrade extensive indigenous lands and protected

The Santo Antonio and Jirau Dams on the Madeira River, currently
under construction, have also raised the possibility that individual
dams could affect a huge area of the Amazon Basin. Scientists have
pointed out that several valuable migratory fish species could suffer
near-extinction as a result of the Madeira dams, depleting fisheries
and fauna thousands of kilometers up and downstream. The fertility of
the Amazon floodplain, important for agriculture and fish
reproduction, would also be impaired because a significant portion of
the sediments and nutrients carried by the Madeira would be trapped in
the reservoirs.

Another Amazon tributary under threat is the Xingu River. Brazil is
moving forward with the construction of a huge dam on the Xingu,
called Belo Monte. Belo Monte would be the third-largest hydroelectric
project in the world and would require diverting nearly the entire
flow of the Xingu through two artificial canals to the dam's
powerhouse, leaving indigenous communities along a 100 km stretch of
the Xingu�s Big Bend without water, fish, or a means of river
transport. The Belo Monte Dam would cause severe impacts to areas
considered of extreme importance for conservation of biodiversity, as
well as irreversible impacts to the Xingu�s fish stocks.

There is no doubt that meeting future energy needs of the Brazilian
people is of crucial importance, but there are alternatives to more
dams. Several studies, from WWF�World Wide Fund for Nature�s to
grass-root MAB�s (Movement of those Affected by Dams in Brazil) -
showed that Brazil could meet a major part of its future energy needs
at lower social, environmental, and economic cost by investing in
energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Africa. In Africa, dam construction is also on the rise. Africa is
the least-electrified place in the world, with just a fraction of its
citizens having access to electricity. Solving this huge problem is
made more difficult by widespread poverty and poor governance, and
because a large majority of the people live far from the grid, which
greatly adds to the cost of bringing electricity to them.

The World Bank and many of the continent's energy planners are
pinning their hopes for African electrification on something as
ephemeral as the rain, by pushing for a slew of large dams across the
continent. World Bank energy specialist Reynold Duncan told an energy
conference earlier this year that Africa needs to greatly increase its
investments in hydropower. "In Zambia, we have the potential of about
6,000 megawatts, in Angola we have 6,000 megawatts, and about 12,000
megawatts in Mozambique,� he said. �We have a lot of megawatts
down here before we even go up to the Congo."

Duncan said that governments and investors should not hesitate to
look at riskier assets such as hydropower, adding that only 5 percent
of the continent's hydro potential had been tapped. But �risky� is
right. New African dams are being built with no examination of how
climate change will affect them, even though many existing dams are
already plagued by drought-caused power shortages.

Climate change is expected to dramatically alter the dynamics of many
African rivers, worsening both droughts and floods. In this climate,
the proposed frenzy of African dam building could be literally
disastrous. Unprecedented flooding will cause more dams to collapse
and hasten the rate at which their reservoirs fill with sediment.
Meanwhile, worsening droughts will mean dams will fail to meet their
power production targets.

Dams are not inexpensive investments: Just developing one of these
dams, the Mphanda Nkuwa in Mozambique, is expected to cost at least $2
billion (not including the necessary transmission lines). Yet these
huge projects are doing little to bridge the electricity divide in
Africa. With the majority of the continent's population living far
from existing electricity grids, what is needed is a major
decentralized-power rollout of renewables and small power plants to
build local economies from the ground up, not the top down. But
that�s not where the money is right now.


These examples from three areas of heavy dam-building activity hint
at the spectrum of major problems they present. Big dams always
promise progress and development, but what the reality on the ground
shows are displaced and impoverished refugees, ecologically fragmented
and damaged rivers, and downstream victims of destroyed fisheries and
impounded sediments. Big dams also expand the habitat of waterborne
disease vectors such as malaria, dengue fever, schistosomiasis, and
liver fluke, and can trigger devastating earthquakes by increasing
seismic stresses. Dams frequently fail to deliver their projected
benefits and usually wind up costing more than predicted. And although
hydropower is touted as a solution to climate change, many dams
actually emit huge quantities of greenhouse gases. As Indian writer
and activist Arundhati Roy has put it, �Big dams are to a nation�s
development what nuclear bombs are to its military arsenal. They�re
both weapons of mass destruction.�

If dams continue to wreak havoc with people�s lives and ecosystems,
and are increasingly risky in a warming world, why do they continue to
be built and promoted? And why are they now being hailed as a source
of green, renewable energy?

One of the main reasons is vested interests: There are substantial
profits to be had, for the hydropower industry, their network of
consultants, and host-country bureaucracies, from planning, building,
and operating massive infrastructure projects. These attractions often
trump the impacts on people and ecosystems and the need to develop
sustainable economies in the midst of a growing water and food crisis.

Industry consultants and engineering companies that undertake
feasibility studies and environmental impact assessments know that
they need to portray a project in a favorable light if they want to
get future contracts. In case after case, and without comprehensively
assessing the alternatives, they consistently claim that the impacts
can be mitigated and that the project in question represents the best
option for meeting the country�s needs.

Environmental impact assessments (EIAs) that should anticipate
problems have served as a rubber-stamping device rather than a real
planning tool. Jiang Gaoming of the Chinese Academy of Sciences
reports that construction on many projects in southwest China is under
way in violation of key aspects of Chinese law. Many projects lack an
EIA and have not been approved by the government. According to Jiang,
even basic safety checks have not been performed and government
regulators are uninvolved. �EIAs have become a marginalized and
decorative process, seen as just a part of the cost of doing
business,� says Jiang. �Both the builders and local government
know that, to date, an EIA has never managed to halt a dam project.�

Needless to say, corruption also plays a key role. A dam involves a
huge upfront investment of resources, making it easy for government
officials and politicians to skim some off the top. One of the most
egregious examples of corruption involving a dam project is the
Yacyret� Dam on the Paran� River, between Argentina and Paraguay. In
the 1980s, the cost of this �monument to corruption� ballooned
from an original estimate of $1.6 billion to more than $8 billion. In
2002 and 2003, several of the biggest dam-building companies in the
world were convicted of bribing the former director of the Lesotho
Highlands Development Authority to win contracts on Lesotho�s Katse
Dam. Masupha Sole accepted around $2 million in bribes from major
dam-building firms such as Acres International of Canada and Lahmeyer
International of Germany. In China, corrupt local officials stole
millions of dollars intended for people displaced by the Three Gorges
Dam. At least 349 people have been found guilty of embezzling a total
of about 12 percent of the project�s resettlement budget.

The Way Forward

Needless to say, these are not easy problems to address. The most
ambitious and systematic attempt to date has been undertaken by the
World Commission on Dams (WCD), a multi-stakeholder independent body
established by the World Bank and the World Conservation Union in
1998. After a comprehensive evaluation of the performance of large
dams, the Commission issued its final report, Dams and Development: A
New Framework for Decision-Making, in 2000.

Briefly, the WCD recommends conducting an open and participatory
process to identify the real needs for water and energy services,
followed by a careful assessment of all options for meeting those
needs, giving social and environmental aspects the same significance
as technical, economic, and financial factors. If a new dam is truly
needed, outstanding social and environmental issues from existing dams
should be addressed, and the benefits from existing projects should be
maximized. Public acceptance of all key decisions should be
demonstrated and decisions affecting indigenous peoples should be
guided by their free, prior, and informed consent. Legally binding
agreements should be negotiated with affected people to ensure the
implementation of mitigation, resettlement, and development
entitlements. Impact assessments should follow European Union and
other global EIA standards. By definition, an effective EIA �ensures
that environmental consequences of projects are identified and
assessed before authorization is given�� something that almost
never occurs in today�s world. Dam projects built on international
rivers should also evaluate the potential transboundary impacts or
cumulative impacts from multi-dam projects in regional watersheds.

The dam industry has rejected the WCD guidelines and in 2007
established its own process, hoping to develop a sustainability
protocol that will replace the WCD framework as the most legitimate
benchmark for dam projects. But the industry approach is clearly an
attempt to circumnavigate the more robust requirements of the WCD
while paying lipservice to sustainability.

In fact, the industry�s attempt to repackage hydropower as a green,
renewable technology is both misleading and unsupported by the facts,
and alternatives are often preferable. In general, the cheapest,
cleanest, and fastest solution is to invest in energy efficiency. Up
to three-quarters of the electricity used in the United States, for
instance, could be saved with efficiency measures that would cost less
than the electricity itself. Southern countries, especially those like
China, India and Brazil with huge industrial expansion projects within
an export-oriented model will account for 80 percent of global energy
demand growth up to 2020. These countries could cut that growth by
more than half using existing efficiency technologies, according to
McKinsey Global Institute. �Technology transfer� programs can be
an effective way to help poorer nations avoid having to reinvent the
wheel; for example, California�s remarkable energy efficiency
program has been sharing knowledge with Chinese energy agencies and
government officials to jump-start strong efficiency programs there.

Even with investment in efficiency, however, it will be necessary to
look for new generation sources. In several Southern countries,
sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass energy, as well
as low-impact, non-dam hydropower, are gaining ground. Such
technologies can be much better suited to meeting the energy needs of
the rural poor, if they are being developed where people need the
power and do not require the construction of transmission lines.
Examples include the installation, supported by Global Environment
Facility incentives, of hundreds of thousands of solar home systems in
Bangladesh, China, Sri Lanka, and Uganda.

True renewables can also be an attractive and affordable solution to
many countries� energy problems. The cost of windpower in good
locations is now comparable to or lower than that of conventional
sources. Both solar photovoltaic and concentrating solar power are
rapidly coming down in price. A 2008 report from a U.S. National
Academy of Engineering panel predicts that solar power will be
cost-competitive with conventional energy sources in five years.

As for systemic corruption, it must be openly challenged by
governments, funding agencies, and other proponents of dam projects.
Regulations must be written to identify, define, and eliminate
corruption at all levels of the planning process. And the regulations
must be openly supported and enforced by the World Bank, the dam
industry, the national and transnational hydropower companies, and the
governments supporting dam construction, projects that often involve
amounts of billions of US dollars. And the dam industry itself,
together with its biggest government allies such as China, Brazil and
India, must take steps toward internal reform. Adopting the WCD
guidelines would be a good first step, together with instituting such
practices as integrity pacts, anti-corruption legislation, and
performance bonds that require developers to comply with commitments.

Healthy rivers, like all intact ecosystems, are priceless. Southern
countries should do everything in their power to protect these
irreplaceable lifelines. One important step is to not copy the
problem-filled energy model developed by Northern industrialized
countries decades ago. Southern countries have cost-effective
alternatives at their disposal that would enable them to leapfrog to a
sustainable, twenty-first-century energy regime � one that is more
sustainable, efficient, socially just, and strengthens local and
regional economies. The alternative is, quite simply, a persistent
legacy of human and environmental destruction.

By: Aviva Imhof, International Rivers,
, sent by Lori Pottinger, e-mail:
This article was adapted from an article that first appeared in
WorldWatch Magazine (January/February 2010).

index <#0>

- Brazil: Belo Monte dam would turn the Xing� River into a river of

A hydroelectric complex comprising two dams and the diversion of the
Xing� River from its natural course on the stretch that flows through
the state of Par�; a cost of more than 16 billion dollars; the
flooding of 516 square kilometres of Amazon forest; impacts on a total
of 1,522 square kilometres of forested lands; between 100 and 142
square kilometres of land left in permanent drought; changes in the
river ecosystem, with the introduction of foreign fish species and the
extinction of others; loss of biodiversity, which is the source of
food and income for millions of people in the Amazon; direct or
indirect impacts on 30 indigenous territories inhabited by more than
13,000 people from 24 indigenous ethnic groups; the forced
displacement of between 20,000 and 40,000 people; 80,000 unemployed
people; the possibility of other dams being built upstream. This is
the scenario created by the Belo Monte dam on the Xing� River, a
project originally conceived in the 1970s during the Brazilian
military dictatorship.

The auction for construction of the hydroelectric dam project was won
by the Norte Energia consortium, in which the largest shareholder is
the mixed-capital state-controlled power company, Eletronorte.

In Brazil, 25% of the electricity produced is consumed by nine mining
and energy companies: Alcoa, ArcelorMittal, Camargo Corr�a Energiam
CSN, Gerdau, Samarco, Vale do Rio Doce and Votorantim. A number of
these companies have a strong interest in the construction of the Belo
Monte dam � which would be the world�s third largest � for the
expansion of their extractive operations.

If the dam is built, between 20% and 30% of the inhabitants of
Altamira will be permanently displaced, according to the environmental
impact assessment (EIA) for the project.

From the moment plans for the project were announced, the resistance
of social movements and indigenous communities in the region has
continued to grow. A landmark in the resistance struggle was a
gathering held in Altamira in February 1989, the First Encounter of
Indigenous Peoples of the Xing�, where participants spoke out against
the decisions adopted for the Amazon region without the participation
of its indigenous peoples, and against the construction of the Xing�
hydroelectric dam complex. More than 3,000 people took part in the
encounter, including 650 indigenous people from various parts of
Brazil and other countries, representatives of environmental and
social movements, and the Brazilian and foreign media.

Over the following years, the project has been redesigned numerous
times, new viability studies and EIAs have been conducted, and
consultations and public hearings have been held, with a marked lack
of transparency throughout the whole process.

Opponents to the dam have fought back, filing public civil suits for
the suspension of environmental licences, preparing documents,
organizing debates, and writing letters to the president�s office
calling for the suspension of the dam�s construction.

But in 2007, the government of former President Luiz In�cio Lula da
Silva included the Belo Monte project in its Programme for the
Acceleration of Growth (PAC) as a key priority. This spurred the
organization of the Xing� Alive Forever (Xing� Vivo para Sempre)
Encounter, in 2008, which brought together representatives of
indigenous and riverine communities, social movements, civil society
organizations, researchers and specialists. In 2009, the Belo Monte
case was presented in a public hearing at the OAS Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights in Washington, D.C.

In December 2009, representatives of a number of different indigenous
peoples (Arara, Guarani, Juruna, Kayap�, Xavante, Xipaia, Xicrin and
Yanomami) issued a manifesto denouncing the Brazilian government�s
indifference. The declaration talked about the 20 years of struggle
waged by indigenous peoples against the Belo Monte project and
concluded by saying that the Xing� River could be turned into a
�river of blood.�

In February 2010, the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment, through
the environmental agency IBAMA, granted a provisional environmental
licence for the Belo Monte dam complex, with 40 conditions attached.
This sparked an upsurge in opposition. The Xing� Alive Movement,
which gathers together more than 100 organizations opposed to the
project, joined with 40 other social organizations to submit a formal
petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights calling for
precautionary measures to halt the dam�s construction. The petition
stated that the provisional licence for the Belo Monte project had no
legal basis and had been issued without the fulfilment of the
requirements established by IBAMA.

One year later, in February 2011, IBAMA granted a partial
installation licence for the initiation of construction work, the
clearing of 238 hectares of forest, and the opening of access roads on
the Bacaj� and Xing� Rivers.

It should be stressed that the category of �partial installation
licence� does not exist in Brazilian environmental legislation, as
was pointed out by a panel of specialists monitoring debate on the
project. And as federal prosecutor Felicio Pontes Junior observed in a
recent blog article, from which an excerpt is presented below, this is
only one of the numerous irregularities and illegalities that have
characterized the history of this megaproject.

On February 8, 2011, a petition with more than half a million
signatures opposing the project was submitted to a representative of
the current Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff. Paradoxically, the
representative expressed the willingness to participate in a
�dialogue� with indigenous and other resistance leaders in the
region but while moving ahead with the project�s execution at the
same time.

What follows is an excerpt from an article posted by federal
prosecutor Felicio Pontes Junior on his blog
), in which he comments on the provisional environmental licence
granted in 2010 and the recently issued partial installation licence:

Belo Monte�s provisional licence (LP) was granted by IBAMA in
February 2010 with 40 environmental conditions and 26
indigenous-related conditions attached. The LP does not allow for work
on the project to begin. It is merely a preliminary planning licence.
Through it, the agency issuing the licence states that the location
and conception of the project are approved. Before work on the project
itself can begin, another licence must be obtained: the installation
licence (LI).

In order for the Norte Energia consortium � which was hastily put
together on the eve of the hydroelectric dam auction � to initiate
work, it must fulfil the conditions attached. Many of these conditions
are, in fact, unresolved disputes. The government pressure for the
issuing of the LP was so great that the conflicts were turned into

Among the 40 environmental conditions we could cite, as an example,
No. 9, which stipulates: (i) the initiation of construction and repair
of educational and health facilities in Altamira and Vit�ria do
Xingu; (ii) the initiation of basic sanitation works in these
localities; and (iii) the installation of basic sanitation services in
Belo Monte before the construction of workers housing. The Federal
Public Ministry was able to access documents from the local
authorities of these localities which demonstrate that nothing had
been done as of 2010.

Another condition, this time No. 5 of the conditions related to
indigenous peoples, requires, among other measures: (i) the physical
demarcation of the Arara de Volta Grande and (ii) Cachoeira Seca
Indigenous Lands; (iii) an agrarian survey and the beginning of the
end of intrusion (withdrawal of non-indigenous people) from the
Apyterewa Indigenous Land. None of this can be done overnight. The
Federal Public Ministry itself has been trying for decades. And it is
all extremely necessary.

In fact, even the environmental impact assessment carried out by
Eletrobras and contractors predicts that some 100,000 workers will
migrate to the area in search of employment on the project.
Considering that the current population of Altamira is 94,000, and
that, at most, the project will create approximately 19,000 jobs �
and only in the third year, because in other years a smaller number of
jobs will be available � one can easily conclude that, in addition
to the demographic explosion, Altamira will also have at least 80,000
unemployed people.

Norte Energia attempted a manoeuvre to evade complying with these
conditions. It requested a partial installation licence to break
ground for the project. This does not exist in Brazilian legislation.
Breaking ground is in itself work on the project. Or does anyone think
that breaking ground alone will not attract migration?

In October 2010, the IBAMA technical team said �no� to this
manoeuvre precisely because of non-compliance with the conditions

And it cannot be claimed that the localities affected will be
compensated through the release of more public funds. Would these
funds be sufficient for the construction and maintenance of hospitals,
schools and judicial and security agencies in a region where the
population will double in one year? Will these funds also double
Altamira�s annual budget? Obviously not.

What is taking shape is nothing other than a d�j� vu. We will be
left with the social chaos and the environmental damages. The
multinationals will get the energy.

index <#0>

- Mekong dams heat up the region

The problems associated with large-scale hydropower dams are not a
new issue to the Mekong basin. Originating in the Tibetan Himalayas,
the Mekong River weaves through Yunnan province in southern China
before passing through a small part of Burma, then into Laos, where
for a long stretch it forms the Lao-Thai border in north and
northeastern Thailand, and then flows south through Cambodia and down
to the Mekong delta in Vietnam. Over the past decades, many parts of
this river-rich region have been seriously impacted by large-scale
hydropower dams. Current proposals to build hundreds of dams on the
Mekong River�s most important tributaries together with 12 dams on
the Mekong mainstream are raising serious concerns and heating up
tension and conflicts among region�s countries more than ever.

At the moment when this article began to be written, around 2,000
people from local communities, members of the People�s Movement for
a Just Society (PMove) - Assembly of the Poor, were returning home
after a 25-day-long gathering under the blistering sun in Bangkok. The
had gone there to pressure the Thai cabinet�s decisions on cases of
injustice, including large-scale projects that take away people�s
natural resources and livelihoods. The people�s movement has been
driven by a wide range of chronic problems including inadequate land
reform, unwanted mining projects, and the emergence of power plant
proposals in rural communities. Among all these issues is the case of
the Pak Mun Dam.

Over the last two decades, the people affected by the Pak Mun Dam in
Ubon Rachathani province in northeastern Thailand have become the
forefront of the Assembly of the Poor, the strongest people�s
movement ever witnessed in Thailand. In 1991, with direct support from
the World Bank, the military-appointed government decided to dam the
Mun River, the biggest tributary of the Mekong River, for electricity
generation at a capacity of 135 MW. Only one kilometre away from where
the Mun and the Mekong Rivers meet, the Pak Mun Dam has plagued both
rivers, as it has almost completely blocked the natural fish migration
route. As a result, the dam has directly affected around 6,000
families from fishing communities along the once-fertile river, and
many more in other northeastern parts of the country. Since entering
into operation, the dam has failed to generate the intended amount of
electricity. Recently, this first �run-of-river dam� in Southeast
Asia was recorded as producing just a little over 20 MW of
electricity. Even at its full capacity, the dam could barely meet the
electricity needs of the largest mall in Thailand, located in Bangkok,
and its remaining supply would not meet even half the needs of the
second largest mall.

Despite the dam�s failure in efficiency and its continuing impacts,
the Thai cabinet continues to refuse to take action on the
recommendations of the government-appointed committee to study the
dam, which states that all the Pak Mun Dam�s sluice gates should be
opened permanently. The explanation for this refusal given by the Thai
government and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT)
to the public is that if the gates are opened, the Mun�s flow would
rapidly drain as a result of the severe drought that has afflicted the
Mekong River, and thus its advantages would be simply wasted.

The Thai cabinet�s claim conflicts with another widely shared
theory: that the real reason why the Pak Mun Dam can never be opened
permanently is not because of the need for the 20 MW of electricity it
produces nor the concern for water use, but rather because permanently
opening the dam gates is equivalent to an acknowledgement of the total
failure of the dam. This would be advantageous for those who oppose
dams, while leaving authorities who advocate dam building in both
Thailand and the rest of the region in a disadvantageous position.

The Thai and other Mekong region governments never inform the public
about the hydrological changes caused by the four dams built upstream
in China. Meanwhile, the case of the Pak Mun Dam clearly demonstrates
how governments hold on tight to their own existing dams and plans to
build dams on the Mekong�s tributaries, while also striving to build
dams along the lower Mekong mainstream as well.

The series of large-scale dams on the upper Mekong mainstream in
China started with the construction of the Manwan Dam, which was
completed in 1992 without any proper consultation with the lower
Mekong countries, especially with the people who directly rely on the
river for their everyday life. The scale of the Chinese dams is in no
way comparable with Pak Mun: they all have more than 1,000 MW of
installed capacity and hold millions of cubic metres of Mekong water.
Apart from the early outcry of the people in northern Thailand, the
impacts of China�s dams seemed to be very slowly felt by the
downstream Mekong countries throughout the 1990s. For instance, until
the mid-2000s, nobody seemed to have any idea about the impacts of the
Chinese dams on Vietnam�s Mekong delta.

However, shortly before the completion of the Xiaowan Dam � the
fourth dam in China, out of plans to build a total of eight or even 15
dams on the upper Mekong mainstream � the impacts on the Mekong
River were already being overwhelmingly felt. In April 2010, a
representative of the Chinese embassy in Thailand appeared before the
Thai public for the first time, at a civil society-hosted forum in
Bangkok, to deny any relation between China�s dams and the negative
changes in hydrology, biodiversity and livelihoods in the lower Mekong
mainstream countries. It was a bit too late, though, as the Chinese
government had already been bombarded with criticisms by local
communities, civil society groups and news agencies. In Vietnam, for
instance, the people, academics and even government agencies, in
particular those from the Mekong delta, have pointed a finger at China
as one of the root causes of the hydrological change and voiced their
concern over the impact of the Mekong dams on the delta.

In addition to the mounting concern over the transboundary impacts of
the Chinese dams, it was announced in early 2008 that the first Mekong
mainstream dam proposal outside China � the Don Sahong Dam in
southern Laos � was ready to proceed. The dam is one of the 12 dams
proposed among the lower Mekong countries: eight dams in Laos, two on
the Thai-Lao border, and the other two in Cambodia. Aside from the Don
Sahong project, none of the proposed dams has less than 800 MW
capacity, and the biggest dam is up to 3,000 MW in size. Among
questions raised about the Don Sahong Dam, the major concern was the
potential impact on fisheries in what is probably the most intensively
fished area and largest fish spawning area in the lower Mekong. As a
result, the Don Sahong case raised the question of how much importance
the Mekong region governments give to Mekong fisheries, which provide
livelihoods for a great number of people and contribute significantly
to these countries� economies, especially in Cambodia, where
fisheries account for 17% of the country�s GDP.

Nevertheless, after more than two years of opposition by many civil
society groups, the Lao government has not yet submitted the Don
Sahong Dam proposal to the regional Procedures for Notification, Prior
Consultation and Agreement (PNPCA) to inform other Mekong countries of
its intention to build the dam. Instead, the Lao government submitted
the proposal for the Xayaboury Dam in September 2010, initiating the
PNPCA process, which was agreed under the framework of the 1995 Mekong
Agreement among Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. According to the
PNPCA, all four member countries agree to notify and listen to
neighbouring countries when they propose to build a project on the
Mekong mainstream, even within their own countries. However, the
process can play no role in stopping the dam if the host country
insists on building it. Therefore, the current process will represent
a crucial milestone for the Mekong River�s fate, as the PNPCA
process for the case of the Xayaboury Dam in northern Laos becomes a
test case for all.

The proposed Xayaboury Dam has sparked wide criticisms and
expressions of disapproval, splitting the Mekong countries like never
before. The Mekong River Commission (MRC, formed in 1995 by an
agreement between the governments of Cambodia, the Lao PDR, Thailand
and Vietnam with the primary duty of protecting the river under the
1995 Mekong Agreement) has been accused by many civil society groups
of failing to play an effective role in facilitating the use of its
own knowledge as an effective tool for decision making on the dam. The
Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) commissioned by the MRC
states the severe impacts on fisheries, sediment load, wetlands and
agricultural land, weighed against the limited benefits of electricity
supply if the 12 projects are to proceed. According to the SEA, under
the scenario for the year 2015, the series of 12 dams would only
supply up to 11.6% of the electricity needed in Thailand, and only 4%
for Vietnam. The SEA finally recommends the deferment of all lower
Mekong mainstream dams for 10 years. Opposed to the recommendation,
the government of Laos released a statement insisting that �Our view
remains unchanged. We are confident that the Xayaburi Hydroelectric
Power Project will not have any significant impact on the Mekong
mainstream� � even before the completion of the consultations in
the neighbouring countries under the PNPCA process. This proves the
failure of the MRC in integrating its knowledge in shaping development
based on comprehensive impact assessments, as seen in the case of the

The debate on the Xayaboury Dam will reach the final round when the
MRC Joint Committee members from the four countries convene by the end
of this month to voice their opinion about the project. The situation
could be volatile and is unpredictable.

In the midst of a situation where the large-scale hydropower dam era
has been revitalized, the Mekong region needs more mechanisms than it
currently has to cope with the impacts and potential disasters. The
decision on the Xayaboury Dam, which might be the final threat to the
life of the Mekong River, cannot be subject to the judgement of the
MRC�s Joint Committee members, who hold even lower positions than

The urgent and critical task is to ensure and emphasise transparency
and public participation in the process to meet the region�s power
needs. The promoters of dams in the Mekong region argue that there is
an increasing need for electricity and income generation; however, it
is crucial to be aware of whom and what the energy is for, as well as
who benefits and how they achieve their objectives. It is quite clear
that the benefits of large dams would ultimately be concentrated among
private sector investors in the projects and big companies that need
ever increasing amounts of energy for their huge industries.

It�s about time that hydropower dams in the Mekong region go
through a serious and inclusive regional dialogue, which conveys
�the voice of the region� that truly represents the majority of
the Mekong people, before a natural resources crisis becomes the only
future awaiting us.

By Premrudee Daoroung, Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional
Alliance (TERRA), e-mail:

index <#0>

- Brazil: Discrimination and violence against women in the
construction of hydroelectric dams

Cause and effect of a dam

The company staff came

And said nothing would happen

Suddenly a surprise

The parents rose up in protest

The girls made themselves pretty

Because more than 4,000 men came to town

Some of the girls got caught up

And were showered with promises

They said they had motorcycles and cars

Lots of money

And someday they would get married

But something went wrong

After the adventure, their bellies started growing

And then came the suffering

Children in their arms

And no one to care for them

Rosa Aguiar (In: A vida dos povos atingidos por barragens em poesia
(The Life of Dam-Affected People in Poetry). S�o Paulo: Escola
Nacional de Forma��o Pol�tica do MAB, 2010.)

The struggle of communities affected by dams emerged in the 1980s,
when Brazil began building hydroelectric dams to produce electricity
and meet the energy demands of the country�s industrialization. In
this context, the struggle of those affected by these projects grew
from their need to demand respect for their rights from the Brazilian
government and the companies involved.

The Movement of Dam-Affected People (Movimento dos Atingidos pelas
Barregens, or MAB) was thus born as a way to provide a forum for the
common people, and especially for affected populations. The aim of MAB
is to denounce and oppose the current policies of the electric power
sector. But struggling to guarantee the rights of the affected
populations is not enough. In addition to denouncing the current model
of energy production and consumption and fighting against violations
of rights, MAB also promotes discussion of the need to develop a new
Popular Energy Project, in which the basis for analysis is an
understanding of for whom and for what energy is produced.

The current model of hydroelectric dam construction in Brazil �has
repeatedly fostered serious violations of human rights, whose
consequences ultimately aggravate serious pre-existing social
inequalities, translating into situations of extreme poverty and
social, family and individual breakdown,� according to the Council
for the Defence of the Rights of the Human Person (CDDPH). (1)

Women, who already �normally� suffer from gender inequality in
Brazilian society, are the ones most affected by the situations of
conflict and social, family and individual breakdown caused by the
construction of dams.

As a result, within the movement we have begun to reflect in greater
depth about the ways in which this model of energy production through
the construction of dams impacts on the lives of the women affected.
The key questions now under discussion include the following: In
addition to the gender inequality historically experienced by women,
what are the main violations suffered by the women affected by dams?
How are women impacted by the forced displacement caused by the
construction of dams? What are the main challenges women must confront
in the resistance struggle?

The main consequences for the lives of dam-affected people, which
have even more of an impact on women, are of two types. The first is
economic, resulting from the loss of land; the loss of family income
due to the jobs that disappear, the pre-existing relations in
production and marketing, and the various activities that are
decimated by the flooding of reservoirs. The other type is emotional
and psychological, because they see the places they live disappear,
their entire relationship with their surroundings is dismantled,
community structures and relations are destroyed, cultural traditions
must be abandoned, and they face the insecurity of being forced to go
and live elsewhere, worried about the lives of their children and the
entire family.

The dams do not only impact on the lives of those living on the banks
of rivers. The migration of thousands of workers to the regions where
the projects are undertaken, as is happening with the dams under
construction in Santo Antonio and Jirau (in the state of Rond�nia),
affect public health, housing and education services for the whole
population. Another serious consequence is the increase in
prostitution, teenage pregnancy and �single mothers� � a
situation that directly affects women and contributes to the breakdown
of families. We should also not forget the destruction of the

WOMEN FIGHT BACK: What inspires us is the fact that, even when they
are not seen, the affected women have always fought back. Tu�ra, an
indigenous woman from the state of Par�, is especially symbolic of
these women. In 1989, the power company Eletronorte held a public
hearing to discuss the construction of the Karara� dam and hydropower
plant (which was to be financed by the World Bank). During the
hearing, while her fellow Kayap� warriors shouted �Karara� will
drown our children!�, Tu�ra rose from the audience, ran up to
Eletronorte president Jos� Muniz Lopes, and held the blade of her
machete to his face, a traditional gesture of threat. Her actions
contributed to the suspension of the dam�s construction for ten
years and the withdrawal of World Bank funding for the project.

In addition to Tu�ra, there have been many other women warriors in
the history of the struggle and resistance waged by MAB. The women who
fought to defend their rights during the construction of the
Machadinho dam, frequently clashing with the police; the women of
Barra Grande who headed up the struggle; the women arrested in the
struggle of the people affected by the Tucurui dam; the women who have
stopped company officials from entering the communities where there
are dam projects in Bah�a; the women affected by the hydroelectric
dams in Rond�nia who confronted officials from the big companies in
the capital; all of the mothers who suffer as they watch their
daughters prostitute themselves or get pregnant and end up as single
mothers after being deceived and abandoned by construction workers,
and yet never turn their backs on them; the women who cry over the
loss of their land, their communities.

One of the great challenges we face is for these women to be
increasingly recognized and valued. And this why we must courageously
continue to fight for justice, social equality and gender equality, so
that women and men can be the subjects of a new history.

Water and energy are not commodities!

By MAB (Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens), sent by Sonia Mara, <javascript:location.href=>

(1) The CDDPH is the Brazilian state body equivalent to the
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of
American States (OAS) and the United Nations Commission on Human
Rights. The Council was created through Federal Law 4,319 of 16 March
1964 and is comprised of the following members: the Minister of
Justice, a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a
representative of the Federal Cultural Council, a representative of
the federal Attorney General�s Office, the president of the Federal
Council of the Order of Attorneys of Brazil, the head professor of
constitutional law and the head professor of criminal law at one of
the federal universities, the president of the Brazilian Press
Association, the president of the Brazilian Association of Education,
and the leaders of the majority and the opposition in the Federal
Chamber of Deputies and Senate. The Council has the power to initiate
inquiries, investigations and studies to evaluate the effectiveness of
rules to ensure human rights enshrined in the Federal Constitution and
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), as well as to
receive delegations denouncing human rights violations, determine
their legitimacy, and adopt pertinent measures to punish the
individuals or authorities responsible for these violations.

index <#0>

- DRC: INGA dams for big business

Along the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo the
Inga hydropower scheme has developed a series of hydroelectric dams,
two of them already built � Inga I and Inga II- and two more under
development � Inga III and Grand Inga (see WRM Bulletin 138, 77).

The Inga III is being developed by the Westcor consortium and would
be a tunnel diversion hydropower scheme producing 3,500 MW of
electricity with a total cost up to $8 billion. The Grand Inga Dam
includes the related Inga 3. This World Bank US$80 billion project is
the world�s largest hydropower scheme and could produce more up to
39,000 MW of electricity, over twice the power generation of Three
Gorges Dam in China, and more than a third of the total electricity
currently produced in the whole Africa.

Despite such massive energy provision, there is no plan to provide
Congolese household with electricity in a country where an estimated
62 million people � 94% of the population � do not have access to
electricity and daily power outages plague those few who are connected
to the state�s dilapidated power grid.

Inga III has been designed to produce electricity for export to
industries and urban consumers of South Africa and other neighboring
countries, and to attract energy-intensive industries to DRC.

As for Grand Inga, International Rivers Network (IRN) informs that
�the mining giant BHP Billiton tried to wrest control over the
project by offering the DRC government a sweeter deal. Billiton would
use the power from Inga 3 to feed a smelter that will produce 800,000
tons of aluminum per year� and will consume 2,500 MW of electricity,
more than DR Congo�s entire current power supply.

This confirms concerns that it would be foreign companies which will
gain vast economic benefits from the Inga mega-project, and not the
vast majority of the Congolese people.

Recently, 14 African and international organizations sent a letter to
the chairman of BHP Billiton urging the corporation to impose a
moratorium on the project until the Congolese government first
fulfills its commitments to bring electricity to its citizens.

Grand Inga and Inga III dams threaten many people who will lose their
farmland and their livelihoods in order to build these dams. The Bundi
Valley would be flood while paths for transmission lines will imply
deforestation of swaths of the second largest rainforest in the world
which plays a crucial role in global ecosystem and climate balance.
The Congo River, with the second richest diversity of fish on earth,
will be affected by damming and turbines that lead to loss of fish
populations and destruction of river ecosystems.

As if this were not enough the Grand Inga project is being sold as
�clean and environmentally friendly� energy that can offset carbon
emissions elsewhere �by harnessing run�of�river hydroelectricity
as opposed to damming up a river". As such it might get a push by the
CDM (Clean Development Mechanism)

Indeed, large scale dam projects are not meant for the sake of
people�s needs and needles to say of environment. They are designed
to meet the needs of big business and of big industry that produces in
an unsustainable way for unsustainable markets.

Article based on information from:

Article based on information from: �Africa action at the United
States Social Forum�,
; Grand Inga Dam, DR Congo, International Rivers Network,
; Information on the Inga Projects, World Energy Council,

index <#0>

- Actions against dams around the world

Indonesia: Since April 2005, two companies involved in the building
of a mega-dam in Indonesia, both owned by the a former Vice President
of Indonesia, have been compulsory purchasing land from people around
the Sulewana river in Poso, Central Sulawesi to make way for the
construction and the displacement it will cause.

The project, known as, Poso II will affect the lives of up to 2,000
people. Residents of Peura Village are attacked by police officers as
they try to prevent construction access.

Friends of the Earth Indonesia /Walhi is calling on the Indonesian
government to halt this project to until there is certainty that the
rights of the local population will be respected, the military
presence will be withdrawn and a thorough transparent environmental
impact assessment has taken place.

Mekong region: 263 non-governmental organizations from 51 countries
submitted a letter on March 21 urging the Prime Ministers of Lao PDR
and Thailand to immediately cancel the proposed Xayaburi Dam on the
Mekong River�s mainstream in Northern Laos.

The letter was submitted in advance of the Mekong River
Commission�s (MRC) 33rd Joint Committee Meeting, scheduled for 25-26
March in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, where the four member countries were
expected to make a preliminary decision on whether or not to proceed
with the dam. As an outcome of the meeting, the four countries have
decided to hold a new special session meeting scheduled for April 21st
to discuss the Xayaburi Dam in further detail.

However, the Technical Review report for the Xayaburi Dam
acknowledged the �uncertainty about the scale of impact on fisheries
and associated livelihoods, both locally and in a transboundary

Mexico: The Eighth Encounter of the Mexican Movement of Dam-Affected
People and in Defence of Rivers (MAPDER), held in Huitiup�n, Chiapas
in March 2011, culminated with the Huitiup�n Declaration, in which
the 441 delegates from affected towns and communities spoke out
against the numerous hydroelectric dam projects in Mexico and

The declaration concludes with a call to draw on the historical
memory of social struggles and the wisdom of the peoples in order to
develop new forms of relations between human beings and nature, and to
construct �self-managed alternatives that ensure the autonomy and
control of our territories.�

Rivers for life, not for death! Water and energy are not commodities!

Change the system, not the climate! Free rivers for free peoples!

Brazil: The National Encounter of Women Affected by Dams, organized
by the Movement of Dam-Affected People (MAB) and Via Campesina, will
take place in Brasilia this April. A report will be presented on
violations of the human rights of the communities affected, and
specifically the violations against women in those communities.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has been invited �to learn about
this reality, looking us in the eye,� said one of the organizers.

The encounter will also include the presentation of a �truly
popular model of energy development� which does not place natural
resources and communities at the service of corporations that
appropriate these resources for their own profit.

Ethiopia: On March 22, marking World Water Day, almost 400
organizations have signed a petition against the massive
hydro-electric Gibe III dam on the Omo River which will destroy the
natural flood patterns so vital for the Omo tribes� cultivation
methods as while as threatens at least eight tribes and about 300,000
people living around the Lake Turkana in Kenya. More on the Gibe III
dam at Survival International:

World: a documentary by International Rivers telling the stories of
people from all around the world � India, Mexico, Brazil � whose
way of life, livelihoods, and homes are threatened by the
proliferation of mega-dams.

�A River Runs Through Us� is a personal and hopeful introduction
to one of the biggest threats facing our world's lifelines, as told by
the people at the forefront of the global movement. Filmed at Rivers
for Life 3 -- a 2010 gathering of 350 river activists from 50
countries, held in rural Mexico -- this documentary touches on issues
such as how climate change will affect rivers and dams; what happens
to communities displaced by or living downstream of large dams; and
what kinds of solutions exist that both preserve our life-giving
waterways while meeting our needs for energy and water.

The film is here available in English: and
< and >

The Spanish version is here:
< >

index <#0>


Powered by PHPlist, --

You received this message as a subscriber on the list:

To be removed from the list, please visit:

No comments:

Post a Comment