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Buon Kuop Hydroelectric Project, Vietnam

"We, the 11,000 villagers living along the Srepok River have been facing negative impacts and are seriously concerned about the hydropower development for the Srepok River basin in Vietnam." (Villager statement regarding the dams’ impacts) [1].


The Srepok River is a tributary of the Mekong River, originating in the Central Highlands of Vietnam and flowing across Cambodia’s Mundulkiri, Ratanikiri and Stung Treng provinces. The river basin covers around 29,450km2, of which 11,250km2 are located in Cambodia, being home to 144 villages, mainly inhabited by Punong, Jarai, Tampuon, Brao, Krueng, Thmon and Kraol ethnic minorities. Being a unique and resource rich ecosystem, the Srepok river basin has been of high importance for the livelihoods of the villagers, which is mainly based on agriculture, fishing and collection of non-timber forest products. The region has been further home to many cultural and spirituals beliefs of local indigenous [1].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Buon Kuop Hydroelectric Project, Vietnam
State or province:Đắk Lắk Province
Location of conflict:Dak Nong, Srepok River
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Dams and water distribution conflicts
Interbasin water transfers/transboundary water conflicts
Specific commodities:Electricity
Carbon offsets
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

The Buon Kuop hydroelectric dam has a production capacity of 280MW and is a project operated by the Buon Kuop Hydropower Company, which his part of the state-owned Vietnam Electricity (EVN). The dam is reported to have a reservoir size of 560ha [8].

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Project area:560
Level of Investment:286,500,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:11,000 most directly affected in Cambodia, much more indirectly affected in Cambodia and Vietnam
Start of the conflict:2006
Company names or state enterprises:Buon Kuop Hydropower Company from Vietnam - hydropower
The Electricity of Vietnam Group (EVN) from Vietnam - energy industry
SWECO group (SWECO) from Sweden - consultancy
International and Finance InstitutionsABN Amro Bank (ABN AMRO) from Netherlands
Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development from Vietnam - finance, investment, banking
Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) (SIDA) from Sweden - development agency
Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) (NORAD) from Norway - development agency
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:3S Rivers Protection Network; The NGO Forum on Cambodia; International Rivers; Probe International
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Punong, Jarai, Tampuon, Brao, Krueng, Thmon and Kraol ethnic minorities
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Other Health impacts
Potential: Malnutrition
Other Health impactsImpacts due to floods caused during the construction
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Displacement
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Strengthening of participation
The project's application for CDM credits was cancelled
Development of alternatives:Affected communities demand proper compensation
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The dam was construction and is now in operation, while downstream communities are heavily affected.
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

1995 Agreement on the cooperation for the sustainable development of the Mekong river basin
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[2] International Rivers, online: "Srepok Dams" (accessed 08/07/2015)
[click to view]

[3] ICEM online (15/07/2013): "ICEM fieldwork reveals significant local impacts of dam projects" (accessed 08/07/2015)
[click to view]

[7], online. Buon Kuop dam project Viet Nam. (accessed 08/07/2015)
[click to view]

[1] International Rivers, online (29/06/2009): "NGO Forum on Cambodia Comments Re Buon Kuop Hydroelectric Project (Vietnam)" (accessed 08/07/2015)
[click to view]

[4] International Rivers, online (01/02/2007): "Sharing the Srepok River: Cambodian Communities Downstream of Vietnam Dams Finally Get a Hearing" (accessed 08/07/2015)
[click to view]

[5] International Rivers, online (20/09/2011): "Success Stopping CDM Registration of Harmful Large Hydro Projects" (accessed 08/07/2015)
[click to view]

Other documents

Damaged houses after 2006 flooding Source:
[click to view]

Kid suffering from skin rash
[click to view]

Dam site Source:
[click to view]

Boat on the Srepok River Source:
[click to view]

Villager - Srepok River Source:
[click to view]

[5] Community Statement over Hydropower Dam Construction on the Srepok River Vietnam (12/01/2007)
[click to view]

[8] Mekong Utility Watch (2007) on the Buon Kuop Project (accessed 08/07/2015) Source:
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:A. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB)
Last update10/07/2015
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