Lao Villagers Relocated From China-Backed Dam Lack Land to Grow Crops — Radio Free Asia

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Lao villagers resettled in mountaintop cities to make approach for development the China-backed Namtha 1 Dam in Luang Namtha province in northern Laos have been given homes and different services however now don’t have any land to farm, leaving them unable to make a residing of their new houses, Lao sources say.

More than 10,000 villagers displaced from 37 villages in Luang Namtha and Bokeo provinces have now been moved in a resettlement drive starting in 2016 and ending final yr, and reside in houses in 11 new villages on excessive floor.

All the moved villagers have now settled in however have been left with no land to work, a resident of Resettlement Village No. 1 instructed RFA’s Lao Service on Jan. 29.

“The problem is that we don’t have any land to farm, and we have no fields for planting rice,” the resettled villager stated, talking on situation of anonymity. “We already have electricity, roads, hospitals, and schools, so everything would be fine if we just had some land,” he stated.

Villagers displaced by work on the Namtha 1 Dam have been resettled on excessive floor as a result of the low land close to their former houses has been flooded, and lots of have been left to forage for meals in mountaintop forests whereas others slash and burn land on the slopes to attempt to plant rice, the supply stated.

“We’re waiting for land allocations, but we don’t know when [the authorities and dam developers] are going to distribute it,” one other resident of Resettlement Village No. 1 stated, including, “We need the land now so that we can clear it and prepare it for the coming rainy season.”

“Only a few of us have farmland in areas that haven’t flooded, but most of us don’t,” he stated.

Relocated villagers additionally want jobs, added a resident of Resettlement Village No. 11. “Right now we have no jobs, nothing to do, and no income at all,” he stated.

‘Land troublesome to discover’

Also talking to RFA, an official in Luang Namtha’s Agriculture and Forestry Department stated that authorities are searching for land appropriate for farming that they will distribute.

“We’re looking for land. But it’s very difficult to find 1,000 hectares of farmable land near the Namtha 1 Dam because the area is mountainous and has no water,” he stated.

An worker of the dam’s developer, the Namtha 1 Power Co. Ltd., in the meantime stated his firm is searching for methods to present land to the villagers within the resettlement areas. “But we’re also looking for other ways to help them make a living.”

“One that would be sustainable would be to help them raise chickens, ducks, and pigs,” he stated.

Water shortages, landslides

Villagers moved away from the realm of the dam are additionally going through water shortages, particularly in the course of the nation’s dry season, with one relocated villager saying, “We haven’t had enough water ever since we moved here, and the water we do have isn’t treated. We have to boil it before drinking it.”

“We live on a mountain far away from the Namtha River,” one other villager stated, including, “We have to travel on steep slopes in order to fetch water from the river.”

Landslides additionally pose a hazard to resettlement areas, with a street and components of the inspiration of 1 village, the Nam Ou 4 Dam Resettlement Village in Phongsaly province, cracking after heavy rains in August 2019, and several other homes threatened with collapse.

According to its web site, the developer of the Namtha 1 Dam, the Namtha 1 Power Co. Ltd., is a three way partnership between China Southern Power Grid International Co. Ltd., which owns 80 % of the venture, and Electricite du Lao, with a 20 % share.

Completed in 2018, the dam offered most of its generated energy in 2019 to two Chinese particular financial zones—the Golden Triangle SEZ in Bokeo province and the Boten SEZ in Luang Namtha, bordering China. After 28 years of operation, possession of the dam will switch to the Lao authorities, the developer’s web site says.

Laos has constructed dozens of hydropower dams on the Mekong River and its tributaries, with final plans for scores extra, hoping to export a lot of the electrical energy they generate to different nations within the area.

Though the Lao authorities sees energy era as a approach to enhance the nation’s financial system, the initiatives are controversial due to their environmental affect, displacement of villagers with out sufficient compensation, and questionable monetary and power-demand preparations.

Reported by RFA’s Lao Service. Translated by Max Avary. Written in English by Richard Finney.

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