Since 2003, there has been increasing dam construction on the upstream Srepok River, Sesan River and Sekon River. This has caused the forced resettlement of thousands of ethnic minority villagers in the dam areas and has impacted thousands of people in downstream with frequent and unpredictable floods deterioration of river water quality, decrease in fish catch, erosion of riverbanks, and impacts on riverbank farming, drinking water and health.

[Why Hydropower dams cause social and environmental problems].

This project is piloting a gender impact assessment for the A Luoi and Srepok 3 dams in the Sekong and Srepok River. The long-term goal of the project is to create a greater consideration for gender impacts of hydropower development in the “3S” river area.

The natural resources of the 3S river basin are very important, not just in terms of environmental conservation, but for ensuring food security and livelihood for more than 17,000 people living in the region who depend on natural resources. However, the 3S rivers and their communities are now at risk because of unrestrained and unsustainable development, particularly the construction of numerous dams.

The Mekong River – the 12th longest river in the world is high in biodiversity values. The Srepok, Sesan and Sekon (3S) are three important tributary rivers of the Mekong. These 3S rivers originate in the plateaus of central Vietnam and flow into north-eastern Cambodia and Laos before joining the Mekong and discharging into the South China Sea. These river tributaries have a key role in the ecology of the Mekong Basin and in particular they contribute nearly a quarter of the total Mekong discharge.

In many cases, women are the ones who bear the greatest burden because of their defined role in family and society. [Why is Gender an issue in Vietnam]

While women rights and interests are undervalued in the Vietnamese patriarchy culture, they are even more overlooked by the male-dominated hydropower industry. A decision to construct a dam in Vietnam is generally made by the Ministry of Commerce and is often in the interest of the dam companies.

The key step for permission to build a dam along the river is the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). In this EIA process, there is very little attention to social impact and little community consultation. Women and ethnic minorities are excluded from the process.

In 2013, Oxfam developed a manual for gender impact assessment (GIA) aiming to promote stronger consideration of gender impacts in hydropower development. In the context of Vietnam’s legal framework which supports and promotes gender equity through international agreements and a commitment to gender justice, the GIA is of great significance for addressing gender issues and empowering  women in a particular sector (hydropower).

Donor: Oxfam
Project Date: 2015 – 2016
Location: A Luoi District and Srepok 3 District