Thursday, October 29, 2009

the priorities (development and livelihood) must be balanced --- alan brooks

Today I met with Alan Brooks, director of the greater Mekong regional office of the World Fish Center (headquarters in Malaysia).

In response to me asking if the locals in the Khone Falls care about this dam or not, he said, "Many will see the immediate gains first. The problems will be awareness. There are lots of implications of the longterm facts for fishermen, and the priorities must be balanced."

"There is an estimated 9 million fish that pass through the Khone Falls region per hour."

Brooks would like to link up the World Fish Center with other agencies so that they can all consolidate their information and their power and create a kind of social net, like similar issues have in the West. "If dams are not the solution to the need for power and investment, then what is? What solutions can satisfy these long term needs?"

"The Don Sahong dam will definitely have an impact on fish production, livelihoods, and fisheries. However, the development priorities for benefits derived from hydropower must be considered."

"It's about urbanization and those centers with the biggest demand for power. Green technologies cannot provide sufficient power for cities."

The Cambodian government asked the World Fish Center to do an environmental impact assessment of the dam, and they "declined because we think a Cambodian government institution should lead. We will provide them with technical support. But we are a research organization and it is not our role to do these (EIAs)."

The talk with Brooks was good because it gave me a broader scope on the issue. He was the first person I have talked to to say that the demand for dams for investment and development is there and real, and it needs to be satisfied with something. It just needs to be considered right along with food security and livelihood.

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