Burma's Salween Dams Threaten Over Half a Million Lives Downstream

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Over half a million city residents, farmers, and fisher folk living at the mouth of the Salween River in Burma stand to lose their major source of drinking water, agricultural productivity, and fish stocks if dams planned upstream go ahead.

In the Balance, a report released today by the Mon Youth Progressive Organization (MYPO), reveals how people living on the river’s banks, tributaries, and islands rely on the Salween estuary, where the fresh water of the Salween meets salt water of the Andaman Sea, and how their lives are intricately linked with the seasonal flows and daily tides of the river.

“If the water flow in the Salween changes even slightly and the water becomes too salty, it will disrupt a delicate natural ecosystem of water, plants, and fish that Mon people have depended on for generations,” said Nai Tiaung Pakao, a spokesperson for the MYPO.

The sediment rich soils along the Salween and on the islands at its mouth nourish the fertile paddy fields, vegetable gardens and fruit plantations that feed Burma’s third largest city of Moulmein. The Salween dams will trap the vital sediment upstream and reduce farm productivity.

Despite this, the military dictatorship ruling Burma has moved ahead with Thai and Chinese investors to build the dams without even informing communities downstream, let alone asking for their consent.

“The Salween dam projects threaten the lifeline of our communities and are not following international standards of dam building. We must stand up to stop these dams,” says Nai Tiaung Pakao.

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  • Nai Tiaung Pakao – Burmese +66 85 2936260
  • Nai Chan Oung – English +66 89 838 8937