Pak Lay dam, Laos

Laos officially notified in June 2018 its intention to build a new dam in the Mekong mainstream despite concerns regarding its social and environmental impacts


Pak Lay is the latest hydropower project approved by the Lao government as part of its plan to turn the country into a hydroelectric powerhouse in Southeast Asia. 

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Basic Data
NamePak Lay dam, Laos
CountryLao PDR
ProvinceXayaburi province
SitePak Lay
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Dams and water distribution conflicts
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific CommoditiesWater
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsInstalled capacity: 770 MW

Annual average energy production: 4,124.80 gigawatt per hour (GWh)

Flow-discharge: 6,101 m3/s

Storage capacity: 890 million cubic metres (m3 )

Source: Mekong River Commission [5]
Level of Investment (in USD)2,134,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population22,101
Start Date01/01/2007
Company Names or State EnterprisesPowerChina Resources from China - Developer
China National Electronics Import-Export Corporation (CEIEC) from China - Developer
Relevant government actorsLao Government, Mekong River Commission,
International and Financial InstitutionsExport-Import Bank of China from China
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersRak Chiang Khan Conservation Group, International Rivers Network, Save the Mekong Coalition, Vietnam Rivers Network
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Local ejos
Social movements
Forms of MobilizationBoycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsPotential: Infectious diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseApplication of existing regulations
Development of AlternativesNGOs proposed to halt all the hydropower projects and to find alternative renewable solutions, such as solar and wind
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The project has not been suspended
Sources and Materials

1995 Mekong agreement
[click to view]


9 Press release, Vietnam Rivers Network
[click to view]

[1] Lao PDR Submits Notification on the Pak Lay Hydropower Project to MRC for Prior Consultation, Mekon River Commission, June 14, 2018
[click to view]

2 Laos announces fourth Mekong dam amid fears of ecological disaster, Asia Times, June 15, 2018
[click to view]

3 Press Release | Pak Lay Dam Proceeding – Another Expensive Distraction, International Rivers, June 25, 2018
[click to view]

4 Assessment reports of Pak Lay and Pak Beng dam found to be identical, The Nation, September 21, 2018
[click to view]

5 Fast Facts about the Pak Lay Hydropower Project, Mekong River Commission
[click to view]

6 Pak Lay Dam to Displace Residents in More Than 20 Villages in Northwestern Laos, Radio Free Asia, June 21, 2018
[click to view]

10 Laos Suspends New Dam Projects Following Catastrophe, Voice of America, August 8, 2018
[click to view]

8 Save the Mekong Coalition Boycott of the Pak Lay Dam Prior Consultation Process, August 24, 2018
[click to view]

10 Mekong River body welcomes Laos' decision to suspend new dam projects, Reuters, August 15, 2018
[click to view]

7 Starting date for Pak Lay hydropower project Prior Consultation process agreed, Mekong River Commission, August 10 2018
[click to view]

Other Documents

Area where the Pak Lay dam has been proposed View of the area where the Pak Lay dam has been proposed. / International Rivers
[click to view]

River bank in the Pak Lay area River bank in the Pak Lay area. Many people depend on the agriculture in the river banks. / International Rivers
[click to view]

Cross section of the powerhouse of the Pak Lay dam Cross section of the powerhouse of the Pak Lay dam. / Mekong River Commission (
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorLaura Villadiego, Carro de Combate, [email protected]
Last update19/11/2018
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