Nam Mang 3 hydropower dam, Lao PDR

The comparatively small Nam Mang 3 hydropower and irrigation dam caused the first villager-led protests against the rapidly growing hydropower sector in Lao PDR


The comparatively small Nam Mang 3 dam, with an installed capacity of 40MW, caused an unprecedented protest by affected ethnic minorities, threatened to be displaced to make room for the reservoir. On November 22, 2002, some 40 villagers, armed with guns and sticks, marched to the construction site, urging contractors to stop the work and to inform villagers about the project, where they would be relocated and what kind of compensation they would receive [1]. According to International Rivers [1], this was the first recorded villager-led protest against hydroelectric dams in Lao PDR, a sector experiencing enormous growth since the turn of the millennium [2]; much of it due to Thailand’s involvement as contracted importer of Lao produced hydroelectricity [3;4].

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Basic Data
NameNam Mang 3 hydropower dam, Lao PDR
CountryLao PDR
ProvinceVientiane Province
SiteNamyam Village, Thulakhom district
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
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific CommoditiesWater
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe Nam Mang 3 Hydropower plant is multi-purpose project; it produces electricity and supports irrigation [5].

The dam has an installed capacity of up to 40MW, with an average annual production of 138 to 140 GWh/year [5]. 95% of produced electricity is exported to Thailand [4].

The reservoir size covers 1,000ha. The dam has a height of 28 m and a length of 150.9 m [5].

Investment size amounts to USD 63 million. Related loans come from the Export-Import Bank of China (80%) and from Electricite du Laos (20%) [5].

The constructor company was China International Water and Electric Corporation (CWE) [1].

The first feasibility study was conducted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which later on stepped back from the project [1]. British consultants Resource Management & Research (RMR) was hired during project construction phase (2002) to prepare an environmental impact assessment, environmental management plan and a social action plan within less than 5 months; a task that, properly done, would require at least two years [1]. The impact assessment identified serious concerns regarding the government’s capacity to handle the social and environmental impacts [4].
Project Area (in hectares)1,000ha (reservoir size)
Level of Investment (in USD)63,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population2,745 people displaced; 6,000 negatively affected upstream; 6,800 people negatively affected downstream
Start Date22/11/2002
End Date31/12/2004
Company Names or State EnterprisesElectricite du Laos (EdL) from Lao PDR
China International Water and Electric Corporation (CWE) (CWE) from China
Resource Management and Research LLP (RMR) (RMR) from United Kingdom - consultancy
International and Financial InstitutionsAsian Development Bank (ADB) - The first feasibility study was conducted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which later on stepped back from the project [1]
Export-Import Bank of China from China
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersInternational Rivers
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Threats to use arms
Refusal of compensation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Malnutrition
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..)
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Strengthening of participation
Development of AlternativesSome villagers refused to be resettled, others were claiming adequate compensation [1]. NGO International Rivers urged to stop the project [1], as well as international donors such as World Bank, IMF and Asian Development Bank pressured Lao PDR to stop the project due to economic reasons [1].
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The project went on
Sources and Materials

Water and Water Resources Law, Lao PDR
[click to view]


[2] International Rivers, 2008. Power Surge: The Impacts of Rapid Dam Development in Laos. Report (accessed 10/03/2015)
[click to view]

[4] Matthews, N., 2012. Water grabbing in the Mekong basin - An Analysis of the winners and losers of Thailand's hydropower development in Lao PDR. Water Alternatives 5(2), 392-411.
[click to view]

[1] International Rivers, 2003. New Lao dam Embroiled in Controversy: Report from a Fact-Finding Mission to the Nam Mang 3 Hydropower Project. (accessed 12/03/2015)
[click to view]

[3] Middleton, C. (2012). Transborder Environmental Justice in Regional Energy Trade in Mainland South-East

Asia. ASEAS - Austrian Journal of South-East Asian Studies, 5(2), 292-315.
[click to view]


[5] Website of EdL - Electricité du Lao (accessed 12/03/2015)
[click to view]

Other Documents

Nam Mang 3 dam Source:
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Nam Mang 3 dam Source:
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Meta Information
ContributorA. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB) / arnim.scheidel "at"
Last update13/03/2015