Nam Ngum 2 dam displaced over 6,000 ethnic minorities in Vientiane, Lao PDR

An award-winning dam for sustainable energy production? Over 6,000 ethnic minorities were displaced to construct the Nam Ngum 2 hydroelectric power plant


On its path to become the “battery of Asia”, Laos has planned a series of major dams along the Nam Ngum River, a tributary river of the Mekong. The Nam Ngun 2 dam, located in Vientiane province, is among those already in operation, just 35km north-east of the downstream Nam Ngum 1 dam [1].

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Basic Data
NameNam Ngum 2 dam displaced over 6,000 ethnic minorities in Vientiane, Lao PDR
CountryLao PDR
SiteXaisomboun 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 DetailsNam Ngum 2 dam is a concrete face rockfill dam with a high of 182 meters [2] and a width of 485m [6]. The reservoir expands over 12,200ha. The construction was completed at the end of 2010 and commercial operation started in March 2013 [6].

The installed capacity amounts to 614 Megawatt (MW) and the dam has an annual production of 2220GWh [2].

The investment size was reported to amount to $832 million [2].

The project is a BOT project (build-operate-transfer), in which the ownership will be transferred to Lao PDR after several decades of operation [1].

The produced energy is sold by agreement to the Energy Generating Authority Thailand (EGAT). Therefore, a 98km transmission line(230/500kV) needed to be constructed [2], partly located in protected areas [1].

The dam is operated by Nam Ngun 2 Power Company Limited.

According to International Rivers [3], as of 2010, the involved developers held the following shares: CH. Karnchang (Thai) 28.5%; EdL (Laos) 25%; Ratchaburi Generating Co. (Thai) 25%; Bangkok Expressway PCL (Thai) 12.5%; Shlapak Group (USA) 4%; PT Construction & Irrigation Co., (Laos) 4%; TEAM Consulting Engineering (Thai) 1%.

Finnish company Pöyry conducted feasibility studies and impact assessment, and later became supervising engineer [2].

Other consultants were TEAM Consulting Engineering and Management Co., Ltd. and ATT Consultants Co., Ltd [7]

Technology (turbines) was supplied by Japanese Mitsui and Toshiba [3].
Project Area (in hectares)12,200
Level of Investment (in USD)832,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population6,100 displaced; 9,000 directly affected by reduced fish stock
Start Date01/03/2006
End Date01/03/2013
Company Names or State EnterprisesElectricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) from Thailand
CH Karnchang Public Company Limited (CH Karnchang PCL) from Thailand
Pöyry PLC (Pöyry PLC) from Finland
TEAM Consulting Engineering and Management Co., Ltd. (TEAM) from Thailand
Bangkok Expressway Public Company Limited from Thailand
Nam Ngum 2 Power Company Limited (NN2 PCL) from Lao PDR - hydroelectricity, dams
Electricite du Laos (EdL) from Lao PDR - electricity, energy
ATT Consultants Company Limited (ATT) from Thailand - consultancy, engineering, architecture
Shlapak Group Co Ltd. from United States of America - hydroelectric dams
PT Construction and Irrigation Company Limited from Lao PDR - infrastructure development, energy, mining
Toshiba from Japan
Mitsui & Co Ltd from Japan
International and Financial InstitutionsKasikorn Bank from Thailand
Bangkok Bank from Thailand
Siam Commercial Bank Public Company Limited (SCB) from Thailand
Krungthai Bank PCL from Thailand
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersInternational Rivers (and likely others)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)UNKNOWN
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
there were likely also other groups mobilizing, though no information could be found so far.
Forms of MobilizationInvolvement of national and international NGOs
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseMigration/displacement
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]


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

[3] International Rivers, 2010. Existing and planned Hydropower Projects. (accessed 10/03/2015).
[click to view]

[4] 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] Sengkham S., 2007. Resettlement Impacts of Nam Ngum 2 Hydro-power Project on Community Culture. Report. (accessed 10/03/2015)
[click to view]


[2] Pöyry communication: Nam Ngum 2: Award-Winning Hydroelectric Power Plant in the remote forests of South East Asia. (accessed 10/03/2015)
[click to view]

[6] Website of PT Sole Company (accessed 10/03/2015)
[click to view]

[9] TEAM consulting company on the project (accessed 10/03/2015)
[click to view]

Media Links

Video on reduced fish stocks in the downstream Nam Ngun dam reservoir
[click to view]

Other Documents

Map of the Nam Ngun dams Source: See International Rivers, [1]
[click to view]

Nam Ngun 2 dam Source:
[click to view]

Construction of the Nam Ngun 2 dam Source:
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorA. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB) / arnim.scheidel "at"
Last update11/03/2015