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Dead in the Water
Global Lessons from the World Bank's Model Hydropower Project in Laos
Edited by Bruce Shoemaker and William Robichaud; foreword by Yos Santasombat; afterword by Philip Hirsch

New Perspectives in Southeast Asian Studies
Alfred W. McCoy, R. Anderson Sutton, Thongchai Winichakul,
and Kenneth M. George, Series Editors

“Extremely insightful and succinct, this volume shows how badly the Nam Theun 2 dam project has failed across the areas of indigenous rights and development, sustaining fisheries and river life, livelihoods of the displaced, protecting wildlife, and forestry and the commons. An important book.”
—Michael Goldman, author of Imperial Nature: The World Bank and Struggles for Social Justice in the Age of Globalization

For decades, large dam projects have been undertaken by both nations and international agencies with the aim of doing good: preventing floods, bringing electricity to rural populations, producing revenues for poor countries, and more. But time after time, the social, economic, and environmental costs have outweighed the benefits of the dams, sometimes to a disastrous degree. In this volume, a diverse group of experts—involved for years with the Nam Theun 2 dam in Laos—issue an urgent call for critical reassessment of the approach to, and rationale for, these kinds of large infrastructure projects in developing countries.

In the 2000s, as the World Bank was reeling from revelations of past hydropower failures, it nonetheless promoted the enormous Nam Theun 2 project. NT2, the Bank believed, offered a new, wiser model of dam development that would alleviate poverty, protect the environment, engage locally affected people in a transparent fashion, and stimulate political transformation. This was a tall order. For the first time, this book shows in detail why, despite assertions of success from the World Bank and other agencies involved in the project, the dam's true story has been one of substantial loss for affected villagers and the regional environment. Nam Theun 2 is an important case study that illustrates much broader problems of global development policy.

Bruce Shoemaker is an independent consultant on development and natural resources who has conducted extensive research on the impacts of the Nam Theun 2 dam. His books include The People and Their River: River-based Livelihoods in the Xe Bang Fai Basin in Laos.

William Robichaud is a conservation biologist who has worked in Southeast Asia for twenty-five years. One of his main areas of focus has been conservation of the globally significant forests and wildlife of the Nam Theun 2 catchment.



Praise

“Offers a new understanding of Laos in a difficult period of nation building and development [and] a vital lesson to policy planners, scholars, and INGOs encountering the illusory success of a globalizing economy.”
—Yos Santasombat, from the foreword

 

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June 2018
LC: 2017044548 TK
288 pp. 6 x 9
22 b/w illus., 5 maps,

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Cloth $79.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-31790-4
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