Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Examining the Xayabouly dam: Impacts of hydropower dam construction on downstream communities

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Version 2 2023-09-22, 02:15
Version 1 2021-12-09, 09:32
posted on 2023-09-22, 02:15 authored by Yang, Yia

Hydropower power dam development is a booming industry in Laos and it has the potential to tackle poverty in an environmentally sustainable way. However, currently there is a lack of research that thoroughly analyses the negative impacts of a hydropower dam’s construction phase. This research explores some of these negative impacts of hydropower dam construction on downstream villagers by using the Xayabouly hydropower dam on the Mekong River as a case study. Understanding the impacts of the construction phase is vital in forming policy and developing effective strategies to mitigate future negative impacts from dam construction.   This thesis employs a qualitative approach and semi-structured interviews were conducted with downstream villagers about these negative impacts. This research is based on a pragmatist epistemology and employs the matrix conceptual framework to guide this thesis. The results from this study show that the Xayabouly hydropower dam’s construction phase has many negative impacts on downstream villagers’ daily lives. For example, the construction phase has caused irregular flooding, which has destroyed downstream villagers’ agricultural gardens and riverbank erosion has also occurred. Moreover, the results from this thesis show that the construction phase of this dam significantly reduced villagers’ income and nutrition consumption. The construction phase also created significant problems with regards to daily commuting and damaged fishing gear. These results offer important recommendations and implications, which have the potential to inform government policy in the future and to help develop strategies to mitigate the social and economic impacts from future hydropower dam construction in Laos.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

CC BY-ND 4.0

Degree Discipline

Environmental Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Environmental Studies

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Abrahamse, Wokje