Mapping the social impacts of small dams: The case of Thailand's Ing River basin.

Affiliation

Office of Environment and Heritage, 59-61 Goulburn Street, Sydney, 2000, NSW, Australia. [Email]

Abstract

The social impacts of large dams have been studied extensively. However, small dams' social impacts have been largely neglected by the academic community. Our paper addresses this gap. We examine the social impacts of multiple small dams in one upstream and one downstream village in Thailand's Ing River basin. Our research is based on semi-structured interviews with beneficiaries, government and NGOs. We argue that small dams' social impacts are multi-faceted and unequal. The dams were perceived to reduce fish abundance and provide flood mitigation benefits. Furthermore, the dams enabled increased access to irrigation water for upstream farmers, who re-appropriated water via the dams at the expense of those downstream. The small dams thus engendered water allocation conflicts. Many scholars, practitioners and environmentalists argue that small dams are a benign alternative to large dams. However, the results of our research mandate caution regarding this claim.

Keywords

Infrastructure,Ing River basin,Small dams,Social impacts,Thailand,

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