Archive for ‘Mekong River Commission’

March 10, 2014

Sydney scientist leads Laos dam protests

Sydney scientist warns of Laos dam fallout

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/02/28/sydney-scientist-warns-laos-dam-fallout

A Sydney University professor says the Mekong River would be affected if a 260 megawatt Don Sahong Dam was to go ahead.

Source AAP | UPDATED 11:02 AM – 2 Mar 2014

An Australian scientist has warned that a planned hydro-electric dam on the Mekong River in Laos could damage fish stocks vital to the hundreds of thousands of poor in neighbouring Cambodia.

Philip Hirsch, a professor at Sydney University’s School of Geosciences and the Mekong Research Centre, says the Mekong River, in its role as the “world’s most productive inland fishery” would be affected if the 260 megawatt Don Sahong Dam was to go ahead.

“The overall hydrological impacts of Don Sahong will be quite small, but it has a major, major impact in Cambodia on the source of that country’s animal protein which the poor depend on for the bulk of their dietary requirements,” Hirsch told AAP.

The proposed Don Sahong Dam, is located in Laos’ Champasak Province and situated on the five-kilometre long Hou Sahong, one of the ‘braided channels’ of the Mekong River about two kilometres upstream of the Lao-Cambodia border.

The Don Sahong dam is one of eleven dams planned for the lower Mekong River. Laos has already pressed on with construction of the US$3.5 billion Xayaburi Dam in northern Laos despite criticism from environmentalists and donor countries, including the US and Australia.

A study by the Mekong River Commission – an intergovernmental body bringing together Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, has warned that damming the river could reduce fishery by 300,000 tonnes a year, having a major impact on a million people, especially in Cambodia.

Hirsch says the go ahead the Xayaburi Dam has raised fears of an “unstoppable momentum” it would be “more difficult not to be build a second, third until you’ve got all eleven” dams.

“When you have all eleven then the hydrological as well as the ecological impacts are significant in Cambodia and all the way down to the Mekong Delta in Vietnam,” he said.

A meeting by the MRC in January delayed a final decision on the dam, calling on ministers from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, to further appraise the project. Hirsch said the delay marked a “silver lining” in the Mekong co-operation framework.

He said Cambodia and Vietnam have realised the potential impacts from the dam and have put in objections.

The issue will now be referred to the ministerial or political level, “and a lot depends on what happens at the council meeting”, so far unscheduled.

“It’s still a ways to go,” Hirsch said.

Tags:
January 14, 2014

It is an amazing. Today Laos already has 23 dams and 10 more of them on the way.

 

 

อะเมซิ่งจริงๆ วันนี้ลาวประเทศเล็กๆ มีเขื่อนแล้ว 23 เขื่อน กำลังสร้างอีกนับสิบ

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://manager.co.th/IndoChina/ViewNews.aspx?NewsID=9570000004121

โดย ASTVผู้จัดการออนไลน์ 12 มกราคม 2557 18:38 น.

ASTVผู้จัดการออนไลน์ – จนถึงสิ้นปี 2556 ที่เพิ่งจะผ่านมา สาธารณรัฐประชาธิปไตยประชาชนลาว ประเทศเล็กๆ ที่มีประชากรเพียงประมาณ 6 ล้านคน มีเขื่อนผลิตไฟฟ้าใหญ่น้อยที่เปิดใช้ดำเนินการแล้วทั้งสิ้น 23 แห่ง อีก 10 แห่ง อยู่ระหว่างก่อสร้าง และในนั้นมีจำนวนหนึ่งมีกำหนดแล้วเสร็จในปีนี้

ดร.บุนทะวี สีสุพันทอง รัฐมนตรีช่วยว่าการกระทรวงพลังงานและเหมืองแร่ (ขวามือ) สัมผัสมือกับประธานบริษัทสีเมืองกรุ๊ปผู้ได้รับสัมปทานโครงการรเขื่อนเซละนองจุด 3 ในเมืองนอง แขวงสะหวันนะเขตหลังพิธีเซ็นสัญญาศึกษาความเป็นไปได้ที่จัดขึ้นในเดือน ต.ค.ปีที่แล้ว ปัจจุบันมีโครงการเขื่อนราว 20 โครงการกำลังอยู่ในขั้นตอนสำรวจและศึกษาคล้ายกันนี้ อีก 10 แห่งกำลังก่อสร้าง 23 แห่งเปิดดำเนินการแล้ว จากทั้งหมดกว่า 80 โครงการที่จะผุดขึ้นมาในระยะไม่กี่ปีข้างหน้านี้ ลาวประเทสเล็กๆ กำลังจะเป็นดินแดนแห่งเขื่อนผลิตไฟฟ้า คงจะได้เห็นกันก่อนสิ้นลม. — ภาพ: เวียงจันทน์ใหม่.

เขื่อนผลิตไฟฟ้าที่กล่าวมาทั้งหมดมีขนาดตั้งแต่ 1 เมกะวัตต์ขึ้นไป ยังไม่นับรวมเขื่อนขนาดเล็กอีกจำนวนมากที่ไม่ได้ผลิตไฟฟ้าเข้าระบบ แต่ผลิตใช้ในชุมชนที่กระจัดกระจายอยู่ทั่วประเทศ สื่อของทางการอ้างรายงานประจำปี 2556 ของกระทรวงพลังงานและเหมืองแร่เกี่ยวกับความก้าวหน้าในแขนงผลิตพลังงานภาย ใต้นโยบายเป็น “แบตเตอรี่แห่งอนุภูมิภาค” ผลิตจำหน่ายให้แก่ประเทศเพื่อนบ้าน

หากนับจำนวนเพียงอย่างเดียว เขื่อนผลิตไฟฟ้าในลาวเริ่มใกล้เคียงกับจำนวน 28 แห่งในประเทศไทยที่พัฒนาการผลิตไฟฟ้าจากพลังน้ำต่อเนื่องไม่เคยขาดช่วงใน หลายทศวรรษมานี้และปัจจุบัน ไทยกลายเป็นลูกค้ารายใหญ่ที่สุดของลาว โดยเซ็นซื้อกระแสไฟฟ้าไปแล้ว 7,000 เมกะวัตต์

อย่างไรก็ตาม ในอนาคตไม่นานลาวจะแซงหน้าประเทศต่างๆ ในภูมิภาคนี้ไปไกลลิบเมื่อเขื่อนที่ก่อสร้างแล้วเสร็จ และยังมีโครงการเขื่อนอีกราว 20 แห่ง ที่อยู่ในขั้นสำรวจศึกษาความเป็นไปได้หรือศึกษาผลกระทบต่อสภาพแวดล้อมตามแผน การก่อสร้างกว่า 80 โครงการภายในไม่กี่ปีข้างหน้านี้

เขื่อนที่กำลังผลิตไฟฟ้าในปัจจุบันเป็นของเอกชนที่ได้รับสัมปทาน จำนวน 13 แห่ง ที่เหลือเป็นของรัฐบาลโดยรัฐวิสาหากิจการไฟฟ้าลาว สื่อของทางการกล่าว

ในปีที่ผ่านมา ทั่วประเทศมีระบบสายส่งไฟฟ้าเป็นความยาว 43,860 กิโลเมตร อยู่ระหว่างก่อสร้างในปีนี้อีกกว่า 4,300 กม. ปัจจุบันประชาชนทั่วประเทศใน 143 เมือง (อำเภอ) 6,797 หมู่บ้าน รวม 926,341 ครัวเรือนมีไฟฟ้าใช้ หรือคิดเป็น 85.84% ของทั้งหมด

เขื่อนผลิตไฟฟ้าที่กำลังก่อสร้างในขณะนี้ยังรวมทั้งเขื่อนน้ำเงียบ 2 ขนาด 180 เมกะวัตต์ คืบหน้าไปประมาณ 48.18% กำหนดเปิดใช้ในปี 2559 เช่นเดียวกับเขื่อนเซกะหมาน 1 ขนาด 322 เมกะวัตต์ ที่คืบหน้าไปแล้ว 16.20% และเขื่อนใหญ่ไซยะบูลีขนาด 1,680 เมกะวัตต์ คืบไป 10.77% จะเริ่มปั่นไฟในปี 2562

เขื่อนที่มีกำหนดจะเดินเครื่องปั่นไปเข้าสู่ระบบในปี 2557 นี้ ยังรวมทั้งเขื่อนเซน้ำน้อย 1 ขนาด 14.8 เมกะวัตต์ ซึ่งก่อสร้างเสร็จแล้ว 99% เขื่อนน้ำเงียบ 3A ขนาด 44 เมกะวัตต์ เสร็จ 80%

ยังมีอีก 3 เขื่อนที่มีกำหนดเดินเครื่องในปี 2558 คือ เขื่อนน้ำอู 2, 5 และ 6 ในภาคเหนือ ที่มีขนาดติดตั้ง 120, 240 และ 180 เมกะวัตต์ตามลำดับ กับเขื่อนน้ำกง 2 ขนาด 66 เมกะวัตต์ในแขวงอัตตะปือ

เด็กๆ เล่นน้ำกันในเขตตั้งถิ่นฐานเหนืออ่างเก็บน้ำเขื่อนนำเทิน 2 เมืองนากาย แขวงคำม่วน ในภาพวันที่ 28 ต.ค.2556 ต้นไม้ยังยืนต้นตายให้เห็น เขื่อนแห่งนี้ทำให้เกิดอ่างเก็บน้ำครอบคลุมพื้นที่ 450 ตารางกิโลเมตร แต่ก็ยังมีเขื่อนใหญ่กว่านี้อีกกำลังจะผุดขึ้นมาในไม่กี่ข้างหน้า ปีนี้ลาวมี 23 แห่งแล้ว ปีหน้าจะสร้างเสร็จอีกหลายแห่ง. — Rueters/Aubrey Belford.

นอกเหนือจากเขื่อนแล้ว การก่อสร้างโรงไฟฟ้าพลังความร้อนจากถ่านหินหงสาลิกไนต์ ขนาด 1,878 เมกะวัตต์ ในแขวงไซยะบูลี ก็มีความคืบหน้าไปกว่า 60% และมีกำหนดเริ่มปั่นไฟเข้าระบบเพื่อส่งออกในปี 2558 นี้เช่นกัน

ในประเทศนี้ยังมีโครงการผลิตไฟฟ้าด้วยพลังแสงอาทิตย์อีกจำนวนมาก และขยายตัวต่อเนื่อง ปีที่ผ่านมา รัฐบาลได้ติดตั้งให้ประชาชนในพื้นที่ห่างไกลได้มีไฟฟ้าใช้จำนวน 14,613 ครัวเรือน การผลิตไฟฟ้าโดยใช้ชีวมวล และเอทานอลก็เป็นรูปเป็นร่าง ที่เมืองพูวง ในแขวงอัตตะปือ มีกำลังผลิต 30 เมกะวัตต์

ในนครเวียงจนทน์ กำลังมีการก่อสร้างโรงไฟฟ้าใช้ขยะเป็นเชื้อเพลิงขนาด 5 เมกะวัตต์ โดยบริษัทเอกชนที่ได้รับสัมปทาน นอกจากนั้น ในลาวยังมีโครงการผลิตเชื้อเพลิงชีวภาพจากพืชที่ให้น้ำมันเช่นปาล์มน้ำมัน กับสบู่ดำอีกจำนวนมาก สื่อของทางการกล่าว.

Tags:
July 26, 2012

The Mekong river: Lies, dams and statistics

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2012/07/mekong-river

Jul 26th 2012, 8:55 by T.F. | XAYABURI and VIENTIANE

A DENSE cloud of diplomatic doublespeak hangs over the turbid waters of the Mekong. An amazing week of conflicting statements, stark contradictions and confusion has made everything about the site of a controversial dam project at Xayaburi, in northern Laos, as clear as mud.

The Mekong, which courses through the very heart of inland South-East Asia, is home to the world’s largest freshwater fisheries, about 800 different native species. Its rich biodiversity is second only to the Amazon’s. Through fishing, aquaculture and irrigation, it sustains 65m people.

Since September 2010 there has been an ongoing consultation process among the four riparian countries party to the Mekong River Commission (MRC)—Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand—about whether the Xayaburi project should be approved or blocked. The dam would be the first of its kind. The government of Laos has repeatedly claimed it would heed the strong objections lodged by Cambodia and Vietnam, who fear that the dam’s side effects could decimate fisheries and reduce the flow of sediment needed by farmlands downriver.

There was a current of déjà vu swirling around Phnom Penh this month. On July 13th, at an annual summit for the foreign ministers of ASEAN, the envoy from Laos made a familiar declaration: that work on the Xayaburi dam has been suspended, pending further studies. Reuters, understandably, took this to be an official statement of fact from the Laotian government.

Only three days later Viraphonh Viravong, a deputy minister of energy, contradicted the foreign minister’s statement. A tour of the site, sponsored by the government of Laos, served to rubbish the foreign minister’s statement at ASEAN. As Mr Viraphonh made clear to a party of invited visitors, including MRC officials, diplomats and a few technical experts on fisheries, groundwork is going ahead after all, without any waiting for a further assessment of the project’s impact on the river.

In the MRC’s judgment, “the project is in an advanced preparation stage with…exploratory excavation in and around the river completed.” International Rivers, an NGO, made their own unofficial investigation of the site in June, observing that the river had already been dredged and widened. This despite the fact that in December 2011 the four member-states of the MRC had agreed on the need for further study of the dam’s prospective effects on the environment. The understanding was that no dam would be built until the study was completed.

Failure to halt the dam at Xayaburi would deal an enormous blow to the credibility of the MRC. Its authority depends on the possibility of enforcing co-operation between its members. Moreover the dam’s construction could trigger a major diplomatic rift between the four states themselves.

The initial stages of its construction are visibly under way. So has Laos decided to renege on its international commitments?

This is where things get murky. Mr Viraphonh claims that what observers witnessed was only “preparatory work”. He says the actual construction of the dam has not begun, nor has the river been blocked.

But fisheries experts say that long before the river is fully blocked, existing construction will disturb the riverbed enough to affect fish populations significantly. And even while the river flows, construction work will change the downstream flow of sediments.

The Laotian government has appointed two foreign consultants to help make its case. Pöyry Energy, based in Switzerland, and the French Compagnie Nationale du Rhône are trying to convince Cambodia, Vietnam and other sceptics that the Xayaburi dam will be benign.

Both firms argue that “fish passes” or weirs can be built to enable 85% of the river’s fish to get past the dam’s turbines. According to their plan, the fish could swim happily up or down the Mekong. But this claim has never been put into practice. Eric Baran of the World Fish Centre in Phnom Penh joined last week’s trip to the dam site. He observed that “there has never been a successful fish pass built for a dam the size of Xayaburi, anywhere in the tropics.”

Pöyry Energy’s previous report, a compliance review of the Xayaburi dam in 2011, was widely faulted. More recently, the firm’s parent company has been blacklisted by the World Bank for an unrelated charge of corruption and its CEO has resigned.

Laos might nonetheless esteem the views of its Western consultants. But it heard very different advice from America’s sectary of state, when she made her recent visit to the region. “I’ll be very honest with you. We made a lot of mistakes,” Hilary Clinton said in her opening remarks to the ASEAN summit. She was talking about dams built in the United States. “We’ve learned some hard lessons about what happens when you make certain infrastructure decisions and I think that we all can contribute to helping the nations of the Mekong region avoid the mistakes that we and others made.”

America has its own concerns too. It might worry that if the Xayaburi project goes ahead, China is set to build at least three more dams further down the Mekong, bringing its commercial interests ever deeper into the sub-region.

Cambodia’s minister for water resources, Lim Kean Hor, recently send a letter of protest to the Laotian government calling on them to “halt all preliminary construction and respect the Mekong spirit of friendship and international co-operation.”

The Mekong delta is Vietnam’s rice-bowl. The government has been arguing all along for a ten-year moratorium on dam construction on the river, basing its case on an assessment commissioned by the MRC and finished in 2010. Vietnamese scientists have warned that dams upstream would lead to devastating losses of fisheries and rice productivity and to the salinisation of cropland.

And finally NGOs representing people from the eight provinces in north-east Thailand are about to file legal action in the their country’s courts. They mean to force their national government to review the contract that the state electricity body signed, which obliges it to buy 95% of all the power from the Xayaburi dam.

Thailand’s government has already endorsed the position that Xayaburi dam should be put on hold pending further studies, though it has done so relatively quietly. If Vietnam’s and Cambodia’s conflict with Laos escalates, Thailand’s role will become critical.

The dam is financed by the four major Thai banks. The dam-builder is a Bangkok-based corporation, Ch. Karnchang. The north-eastern Thais’ campaign is aimed at persuading Thailand’s government to stop the project by blocking the banks’ loans. Such indirect tactics might be the only way left to save the MRC—and to preserve some semblance of international co-operation along the Mekong.

(Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons)

July 26, 2012

How the Next 12 Months of Xayaburi Dam Construction Will Affect the Mekong River

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.internationalrivers.org/blogs/267/how-the-next-12-months-of-xayaburi-dam-construction-will-affect-the-mekong-river

Thu, 07/26/2012 – 4:30am
By: Kirk Herbertson

The Xayaburi Dam site in Laos is abuzz with activity these days. Thousands of laborers and dozens of construction vehicles work around the clock to finish the dam on schedule by 2019. Access roads, worker camps, and transmission lines have been built. Villages are being resettled. The river has already been widened at one point, and a dike cuts into the river at another point. One of the project’s lead engineers, the Pöyry Group, told a delegation of visiting diplomats last week that the coffer dam—which diverts the river while the permanent dam is built—will be completed by next May. Soon after that, the dam itself will begin to appear.

Laos’ rapid progress on the dam worries its neighbors. The Mekong River is a shared resource, and what happens upstream in Laos can affect people downstream in Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. According to the 1995 treaty that governs use of the Mekong River, the governments of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam must jointly decide if the Xayaburi Dam will go forward. No decision has yet been reached. Cambodia and Vietnam have both requested that transboundary impact studies be completed before a decision is made, but Laos has said it will not conduct these studies. A regional diplomatic crisis may soon erupt.

Construction hasn’t started?

Proceeding with construction at this early stage would be a clear violation of the 1995 Mekong Agreement and international law. Not to worry, Laos spokesperson Viraphonh Viravong told the Bangkok Post last week. “We have not started working on any construction on the Mekong River that is permanent.”

Yet the 1995 Mekong Agreement makes no distinction between “permanent” and “temporary” construction activities along the river. It worries instead about any activities that will cause “harmful effects” to the river’s ecosystems. Similarly, international law (the rules that govern how states treat one another) kicks in when the harmful effects are likely to be transboundary, as they are in this case.

As it turns out, many of the construction activities already underway at the dam site are likely to have harmful effects on the Mekong River.

Yes, construction affects the river

As the Mekong River Commission noted in its 2011 technical review of the proposed Xayaburi Dam, “impacts during the construction phase are equally as important as those during dam operation.” (p. 32) Based on experiences with other dams, here are just a few of the impacts we might see in the next 12 months if construction continues:

  • The coffer dam and other structures will divert the river, which could prevent fish from migrating past the dam site and block sediment flows downstream.
  • As extra sediment becomes loosened during construction and mixes into the water, it could change water quality, habitats, and the ability of fish to breathe. This could lead to declining fish populations.
  • Loosened sediment could bury and harm fish eggs.
  • Pollution from the construction site could affect water quality and alter ecosystems, harming fisheries and agriculture downstream.
  • Disturbances to the river could affect plankton and microorganisms that are important to the stability of the river’s ecosystem.
  • Resettlement of local communities could create food security problems, based on experiences in the first resettled village.

What happens in Laos in the next 12 months will not just be localized. The construction phase is likely to have significant impacts that can be felt downstream in neighboring countries.

Pöyry, CNR, and the art of making scientific-sounding promises

Yet we still do not know the full extent of the harm that the Xayaburi Dam’s construction phase will cause. Laos’ consultants Pöyry Group and Compagnie Nationale du Rhône (CNR) do not know either. Despite Cambodia’s and Vietnam’s formal requests over one year ago, Laos has still not studied the baseline conditions of the river. How do fish behave in this part of the river, for example, and how do people downstream depend on these fish? It is simply not possible to understand the full extent of the dam’s impacts without first gathering this data. This is one reason why many scientists are skeptical about the unequivocal promises by Pöyry and CNR that the project will have minimal environmental impacts.

The 1995 Mekong Agreement is not perfectly written by any means, but is the best framework the region’s governments have for reaching a mutually acceptable solution. Where there are gaps, international law can provide guidance—such as the requirement to assess transboundary impacts before proceeding with any construction.

The time has come for the Mekong governments to bring Laos back into compliance with the 1995 treaty, and to return to the structure that the treaty provides. The first step, as the Cambodian government has already requested, is for all construction activities on the Xayaburi Dam to stop while further impact studies are carried out.

Ten more dams have been proposed for the Mekong River, eight of them in Laos. No one wants to repeat the chaos of Xayaburi, or to learn a few years from now that we could have prevented all of the harm that the Xayaburi Dam will soon bring.

 Kirk Herbertson

Kirk Herbertson is a lawyer and Southeast Asia Policy Coordinator for International Rivers.

July 11, 2012

Clinton Presses Laos for More Studies on Mekong Dam in Visit

Click on the link to get more news and video from original source:  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-11/clinton-lands-in-laos-to-discuss-mekong-dam-war-legacy.html

By Daniel Ten Kate and Nicole Gaouette – Jul 11, 2012 5:30 AM ET

Hillary Clinton pushed Laos for more studies on a $3.6 billion hydropower dam on the Mekong River opposed by neighboring countries in the first visit by a U.S. Secretary of State in 57 years.

The trip is part of a broader sweep Clinton is making through Asia as the U.S. increases its engagement with the world’s fastest growing economies, in part to counter China’s growing clout. Laos, a landlocked nation of 6 million people bordering China, plans to expand its generating capacity and sell electricity to its neighbors.

Laotian Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong assured Clinton that the Xayaburi power project wouldn’t proceed without approval from neighboring countries, according to a State Department official who wasn’t authorized to speak on the record. Laos plans to hold an international conference about the project to ease concerns, the official said.

The dam remains an area of contention as the U.S. seeks to broaden its engagement with Laos, which is still struggling with unexploded ordnance left over from the Vietnam War. Clinton discussed cooperation on the deadly material as well as accounting for U.S. personnel who remain missing, according to a joint statement. Laos is the smallest economy among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Dam Studies

The Xayaburi dam’s approval may pave the way for seven others that Laos plans to build on the Mekong. The government has aimed to convince its neighbors by showing them studies it commissioned from Compagnie Nationale du Rhône and Switzerland- based Poyry Energy AG.

“Both the reports of Poyry and CNR indicated that the project has created a negligible impact in respect of environmental and social considerations,” Xaypaseuth Phomsoupha, director-general of Laos’s Ministry of Energy and Mines, told reporters in Bangkok on June 20.

While Laos is building access roads and other infrastructure around the dam site, construction on the river itself won’t start “in the absence of the sign-off from our neighbors,” he said.

Vietnam has recommended a 10-year delay for all hydropower projects over environmental concerns on the river, which winds through Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia from its source in China’s Tibetan plateau. About 60 million people along the Mekong depend on the river and its tributaries for food, water and transportation.

Thai Financiers

In 2010, Thailand made an initial agreement to buy 95 percent of the electricity from the Xayaburi plant, which will have a capacity of 1,285 megawatts.

Ch. Karnchang Pcl (CK), Thailand’s third-biggest construction company by market value, owns a 57.5 percent stake in the Xayaburi project. PTT Pcl (PTT), Thailand’s biggest company, has a 25 percent stake and Electricity Generating Pcl (EGCO) owns 12.5 percent.

In her meetings with Thongsing and Deputy Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, Clinton discussed environmental protection, Laos’s entry to the World Trade Organization and the reintegration of ethnic minority Hmong people who fled to Thailand in 2009, according to the statement. The U.S. resettled 130,000 Hmong who fled to Thailand from 1975 to 1996, according to the State Department.

Unauthorized by Congress, U.S. planes dropped the equivalent of one plane-load of bombs over Laos every eight minutes, 24 hours a day, between 1964 and 1973, according to the non-profit Virginia-based advocacy group, Legacies of War.

Unexploded Bombs

Intended to stop communist ground incursions and disrupt North Vietnamese traffic along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the bombings left Laos the most heavily bombed country per capita in history. One ton of bombs was dropped for every man, woman, and child in Laos at the time.

Today, an estimated one third of land remains unusable because of unexploded ordnance, making it unavailable for food production or development, according to Legacies of War. In the 40 years since the war ended, 20,000 people have been killed or maimed by dormant explosives hidden in the soil.

Clinton’s visit demonstrates that she “recognizes that bringing along the less developed countries of the lower Mekong region is key for stability and development in the region,” Brett Dakin, head of Legacies of War’s board of directors, said in an e-mail. “However,” he said, “Laos will not reach its full potential as long as much of its land is still contaminated with unexploded bombs.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Nicole Gaouette in Washington at ngaouette@bloomberg.net; Daniel Ten Kate in Phnom Penh at dtenkate@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Brinsley at jbrinsley@bloomberg.net

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 581 other followers

%d bloggers like this: