Letter from International Rivers to Nam Theun 2 Power Company, February 2012

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This letter from International Rivers to the Nam Theun 2 Power Company highlights the findings from a field visit to the Nam Theun 2 project area in September 2011 and information received from villages along the Xe Bang Fai in February 2012. During our visit the main issue facing villagers along the Xe Bang Fai was the impacts of the serious floods that had taken place in August 2011. Other issues that arose included the water quality on the Xe Bang Fai and associated skin rashes, problems with NTPC-supplied wells, reduction in fish catch, and concerns about compensation for riverbank gardens and riverbank erosion.

On the Nakai Plateau, it is apparent that the material wealth of the villagers has improved since before the dam was built. We heard many people express appreciation for the roads, health center, school, new houses, water, electricity and other amenities provided in the new villages. However, villagers continue to remain concerned about their longer-term food security, and as has been noted in other reports, the shift from a subsistence economy to a largely cash economy has not been an easy one for many people. Many people reported that it was easier to get food in their old villages than it is in the new villages. It is clear that the two main sources of income for villagers now are reservoir fisheries and illegal logging from the community forest area and the watershed area. Many people reported that reservoir fisheries are declining and that intruders from Lak Sao continue to find their way into the reservoir to fish. The reliance on illegal logging is obviously unsustainable and raises serious questions about the future viability and protection
of the watershed area, which was one of the justifications for building Nam Theun 2 in the first place.