Dilemmas of hydropower development in Vietnam : between dam-induced displacement and sustainable development

by P.H. Ty

Institution: Universiteit Utrecht
Year: 2015
Keywords: Vietnam; hydropower; land acquisition; benefit sharing; NGOs; sustainable development
Record ID: 1261661
Full text PDF: http://dspace.library.uu.nl:8080/handle/1874/304340


The goal of this book is to explain the controversies related to hydropower development in Vietnam in order to make policy recommendations for equitable and sustainable development. This book focuses on the analysis of emerging issues, such as land acquisition, compensation for losses, displacement and resettlement, support for livelihood development, and benefit sharing from hydropower development. Qualitative and quantitative research methods were applied for data collection and analysis of research problems. The findings show that hydropower has significantly contributed to the stability of electricity supply and economic development of Vietnam since independence in 1945. However, the benefits of hydropower cannot be compared with the negative impacts that hydropower caused to the environment and society, including a huge loss of natural forests and bio-diversity, the conflict between the use of water to produce electricity and water needs of people downstream, dam failures, and approximately 200,000 people displaced and relocated for the construction of hydroelectric dams, of which over 90% are ethnic minorities. The majority of resettled people have no stable life after resettlement, and their living standards are increasingly more difficult than before resettlement. In practice, very few cases of resettlement due to hydropower dam construction are considered as successful examples in Vietnam. Consequences caused by hydropower development are defined by the following underlying causes. First of all, land acquisition policies, compensation for damages, displacement and resettlement in Vietnam have made significant improvement, but this situation is still not perfect. Secondly, the implementation of these policies at the local level is poor, the responsibility of local governments is not high, and local staffs’ capacity for policy implementation is weak. Very often, policy implementation is imposed by government and local authorities. There is a lack of involvement of key stakeholders except for hydropower investors and local governments. Those people whose lands are appropriated do not have sufficient rights and opportunities to participate in making decisions related to land acquisition, compensation, displacement and resettlement. Consequently, most of resettlement areas are located in difficult areas, with narrow land and poor soil quality and compensation is not adequate to sustain their lives and restore their livelihoods. Thus, the study results reflect that the construction of hundreds of hydropower dams has caused many negative consequences for the environment and society, especially for displaced and resettled people. Globally, the Vietnam example shows that these problems occur in most hydroelectric dam construction, in most regions, with dams of different sizes—from large-scale to small-scale hydropower dams. These problems continue to occur and last for many years, as there is no solution to solve these problems efficiently. The government of Vietnam, investors, and society do not have sufficient…