Upper Yeywa dam on the Namtu River, Shan State, Myanmar

The Upper Yeywa dam will flood traditional Shan villages and irreversibly change the unique characteristics of the Namtu River. Farmers, environmentalists and human rights organizations mobilize against the dam project.


The Upper Yeywa dam in Nawngkhio township is one of four planned hydropower dams, located on the Namtu River. The 60km long reservoir will entirely submerge the Shan village Ta Long, which is a prosperous village located along the river banks, where generations of farmers have relied on the fertile soils of the river banks without any needs for fertilizers. Large concerns over the social and environmental impacts of the dam project have been voiced that have been detailed in the report “Save the Namtu River”, published by the Shan Human Rights Foundation, the Shan State Farmers’ Network and the Shan Sapawa Environmental Organization (see [1]). Famers, human rights and environmental activists call for an immediate cancellation of the dam project until a nationwide peace agreement is achieved [1,2].

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Basic Data
NameUpper Yeywa dam on the Namtu River, Shan State, Myanmar
ProvinceShan State
SiteKyaukme (Nawngkhio, Thibaw/Hsipaw township, La Tong village)
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 Upper Yeywa dam is part of a series of dams on the Namtu River. The Namtu River (Dokhtawaddy or Myintgne river in Burmese) originates in the mountains of eastern Hsenwhi and flows through Namtu, Hsipaw, Kyaukme and Nawngkhio townships, before joining the Irrawaddy in the Mandalay plains.

The Yeywa dam was completed during the military regime in 2010. The Upper Yeywa dam (as of late 2017) is under construction. Three more dams are planned (Namtu dam, Middle Yeywa Dam, Deedoke Dam) and were confirmed on January 8, 2016, by by Khin Maung Soe, Minister for Electric Power [1].

The project began in 2008. A water division tunnel was completed by early 2016. Construction of the main dam started in early 2016. The entire dam is planned to be completed in 2018 [1].

Ta Long village will be entirely flooded by the reservoir. The village is well-known in Shan State for producing oranges and pomelos. Other common crops produced are soy bean, rice and corn. Some farmers also use small water turbines to create their own electricity [1].

The specifications of the dam have changed and differ according to available sources. In 2009, the dam was described as a 140 MW dam. The “Save the Namtu river” report stated that the installed capacity of the Upper Yeywa dam is 280 MW or 308 MW, depending on the source [1, see also 5].

The height of the dam was reported to reach between 90 and 102 meters, depending on the source of information (see 1 for details). The reservoir will stretch for about 60 km.

The dam will be operated by the Myanmar Electric Power Enterprise (MEPE). Companies involved in the construction come from China (Yunnan Machinery Import and Export Co. Ltd., Zhejiang Orient Engineering), Germany (Lahmeyer International GmbH), Switzerland (Stucky SA), and Japan (with its Chinese subsidiary Toshiba Hydro power (Hangzhou) Co., Ltd [5]).

The consultancy firm Resource and Environment Myanmar Co. Ltd conducted the ESIA. (Source: see 1).

The China Exim Bank was reported to be among the funding sources [1].
Project Area (in hectares)60 km long reservoir
Level of Investment (in USD)unknown
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population650 homes in Talong will be sumerged. Potential livelihood impacts caused by the changing river ecology may affect thousands of people
Start Date2008
Company Names or State EnterprisesStucky SA from Switzerland - constructor
Myanmar Electric Power Enterprise (MEPE) from Myanmar - operator
Yunnan Machinery Import and Export Co. Ltd from China - constructor
Zhejiang Orient Engineering (ZOEC) - constructor
Lahmeyer International GmbH Switzerland from Germany - constructor
Toshiba Hydro power (Hangzhou) Co., Ltd from China - supply of turbines and generator
Resource and Environment Myanmar Co. Ltd from Myanmar - ESIA consultant
Relevant government actorsBurma’s military regime, the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC)

Khin Maung Soe, Minister for Electric Power
International and Financial InstitutionsChina Exim Bank from China
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersShan State Farmers Network

Shan Human Rights Foundation, http://www.shanhumanrights.org/

Shan Sapawa Environmental Organization

And others
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Religious groups
Shan ethnic groups
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Refusal of compensation
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: 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, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Increase in violence and crime
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Strengthening of participation
forced compensation
Development of AlternativesProposals and recommendations according to the report launched by Shan Human Rights Foundation Shan State Farmers’ Network and Shan Sapawa Environmental Organization:

"1) To immediately halt all current dam-building plans on the Namtu, including the Upper Yeywa Dam

2) Only when there is a negotiated federal settlement to the ethnic conflict, bringing genuine nationwide peace and decentralized natural resource management, should options for future hydropower development along the Namtu river be considered

3) Any future plans for hydropower

development on the Namtu River must involve a transparent strategic impact assessment along the entire river

4) There must be Free Prior and Informed Consent of affected indigenous communities for any future hydropower projects along the Namtu River"
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The project continues
Sources and Materials

2014 Myanmar Electricity Law
[click to view]

2016 Myanmar Investment Law
[click to view]


[1] 2016 Report "SAVE THE NAMTU RIVER: Impacts of the Upper Yeywa and other planned dams on

the Namtu in Shan State", published by Shan Human Rights Foundation, Shan State Farmers’ Network, Shan Sapawa Environmental Organization. Accessed online (19.03.2018)
[click to view]


[3] The Myanmar Times, 28 March 2017 "Demand to stop dam projects". (accessed online 18.03.2018).
[click to view]

[6] Shan Human Rights Foundation, Media Advisory, 13.03.2018 "Talong villagers’ 4th Prayer Ceremony for NamTu River to free flow" (accessed online 18.03.2018).
[click to view]

[5] Hydroworld.com, 30 March 2015. "Toshiba wins turbine contract for Myanmar's 308-MW Upper Yeywa hydropower plant". (accessed online 18.03.2018).
[click to view]

[2] The Myanmar Times, 29 November 2016. "Hundreds of Shan farmers protest Upper Yeywa dam". (accessed online 18.03.2018).
[click to view]

[7] Media Statement by Talong villager, 8 March 2018. "Talong villagers strongly oppose public consultation on Upper Yeywa dam" (accessed online 18.03.2018).
[click to view]

[4] Shan State Farmers' Network, Press release, 28 November 2018. "1,500 farmers demand cancellation of Upper Yeywa Dam as war in N. Shan State escalates" (accessed online 18.03.2018)
[click to view]

Other Documents

La Tong villagers protest the dam Source: [1], see http://www.shanhumanrights.org/eng/images/2016/pdf/03-30-2016-Namtu--English.pdf
[click to view]

Namtu River near Talong village Source: [1], see http://www.shanhumanrights.org/eng/images/2016/pdf/03-30-2016-Namtu--English.pdf
[click to view]

Reservoir area Source: [1], see http://www.shanhumanrights.org/eng/images/2016/pdf/03-30-2016-Namtu--English.pdf
[click to view]

Map of planned dams on the Namtu River Source: [1], see http://www.shanhumanrights.org/eng/images/2016/pdf/03-30-2016-Namtu--English.pdf
[click to view]

Protests Source: [4]. see http://www.shanhumanrights.org/eng/index.php/313-1-500-farmers-demand-cancellation-of-upper-yeywa-dam-as-war-in-n-shan-state-escalates
[click to view]

Protests at the river bank Source: http://www.shanhumanrights.org/eng/index.php/313-1-500-farmers-demand-cancellation-of-upper-yeywa-dam-as-war-in-n-shan-state-escalates
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorEJatlas Southeast Asia Team (ejatlas.asia"at"gmail.com)
Last update22/03/2018