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Stung Cheay Areng hydroelectric dam in Koh Kong, Cambodia

Indigenous land for dubious dams? Activists, monks and villagers from Areng Valley fight against the construction of the Stung Cheay Areng hydroelectric dam.


The Areng valley in the Cardamom Mountains has become a contested area due to hydroelectric dam proposals that would entail massive negative impacts on people and the environment. The area is inhabited by the Chong people, an ethnic minority of the traditional Khmer people (Khmer Daeum), who are said to live in the forests for more than 600 years [1]. The Cardamom Mountains are also a well-known biodiversity hotspot, providing the world largest habitat for Siamese crocodiles and other 31 endangered species [1;2].

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Stung Cheay Areng hydroelectric dam in Koh Kong, Cambodia
State or province:Koh Kong province
Location of conflict:Thmor Bang District (Cardamom Mountains)
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 commodities:Electricity
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

The hydroelectric dam has a planned capacity of 108 Megawatt [7].

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Project area:10,000 - 20,000ha
Level of Investment:327,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:1,500 directly affected (not counting for downstream impacts)
Start of the conflict:01/10/2006
Company names or state enterprises:China Guodian Corporation (China Guodian) from China
Sawac Consultants for Development Ltd. (SAWAC) from Cambodia - consultancy, impact assessments
Sinohydro Corporation Limited (Sinohydro) from China
China Souther Power Grid (CSG) from China - hydroeletric power, dams,
Relevant government actors:Lao Meng Khin senator (CPP)
Choeung Sopheap (wife of Lao Meng Khin)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Directly involved:
Mother Nature; Khmer Youth Empire; Independent Monk Network for Social Justice.
Further involved: International rivers, Conservation International, Wildlife Alliance, Flora and Fauna International, and others
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Religious groups
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Militarization and increased police presence, Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Loss of livelihood
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Strengthening of participation
Under negotiation
Development of alternatives:According to local NGO Mother Nature, their central proposal is “To stop the Chhay Areng hydro-electric dam from being approved at all costs, due to the massive impact it would have on the whole Cardamom forests and on the lives of the local indigenous Jong communities;” [4]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:It is not yet clear what the outcome will be, though currently it seems that the project will go on.
Sources and Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[5] IR 2008. Cambodia's Hydropower Development and China's Involvement. International Rivers & Rivers Coalition in Cambodia. (accessed 02/03/2015)
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[1] Mother Jones online article (19/10/204): "Will Cambodia Flood a sacred and Biodiverse Valley for a Dubious Dam?"
[click to view]

[2] New York Times article online (28/07/2014): "A Threat to Cambodia's Sacred Forests'" (accessed 02/03/2015)
[click to view]

[4] Website of Mother Nature (NGO)
[click to view]

[6] Phnom Penh Post article (14/02/2015): "Areng Valley dam activist given marching orders" (accessed 02/03/2015)
[click to view]

[7] Phnom Penh Post article (02/03/2015) "Activist summoned over alleged crimes" (accessed 02/03/2015)
[click to view]

Wikipedia on the dam
[click to view]

Open Development on hydropower in Cambodia
[click to view]

[3] Comparison of performance of different dams in the regions, as provided by Mother Nature (accessed 02/03/2015)
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

New York Times video on the conflict
[click to view]

"Fight for Areng Valley". Video made my filmmaker Kalyanee Mam
[click to view]

Other documents

Villagers and monks block the access to the development site Source: (accessed 02/03/2015)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:A. Scheidel (ICTA-UAB) / arnim.scheidel "at"
Last update04/03/2015
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