Dynamics of planning process in the Lower Mekong Basin [Elektronische Ressource] : a management analysis for the Se San Sub-basin / vorgelegt von Ly Thim
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Dynamics of planning process in the Lower Mekong Basin [Elektronische Ressource] : a management analysis for the Se San Sub-basin / vorgelegt von Ly Thim

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Dynamics of Planning Process in the Lower Mekong Basin: A Management Analysis for the Se San Sub-Basin Inaugural-Dissertation zur Erlangung der Doktorwürde der Philosophischen Fakultät der Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität zu Bonn vorgelegt von LY THIM aus Prey Veng, Cambodia Bonn, 2010 Gedruckt mit der Genehmigung der Philosophischen Fakultät der Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn Zusammensetzung der Prüfungskommission: Prof. Dr. Hans-Dieter Evers (Vorsitzende/Vorsitzender) Prof. Dr. Solvay Gerke (Betreuerin/Betreuer und Gutachterin/Gutachter) PD. Dr. Peter P. Mollinga (Gutachterin/Gutachter) Prof. Dr. Christoph Antweiler (weiteres prüfungsberechtigtes Mitglied) Tag der mündlichen Prüfung : 10 June 2010 ACKNOWLEDGEMENT This thesis would not have been possible without the help and support of many people. Above all I would like to thank Prof. Dr. Solvay Gerke for accepting me to be her supervisee from the outset. Without her acceptance I could not enroll in the PhD program of Bonn Interdisciplinary Graduate School of Development Research (BiGS – DR –) at the Center for Development Research (ZEF) of Bonn University. I owe a deep debt of gratitude to my second supervisor, PD. Dr. Peter P. Mollinga, for his invaluable guidance and suggestion through out the preparation of this thesis.

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Dynamics of Planning Process in the Lower Mekong Basin:
A Management Analysis for the Se San Sub-Basin







Inaugural-Dissertation
zur Erlangung der Doktorwürde
der
Philosophischen Fakultät
der
Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität
zu Bonn





vorgelegt von


LY THIM



aus


Prey Veng, Cambodia





Bonn, 2010









Gedruckt mit der Genehmigung der Philosophischen Fakultät
der Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn















Zusammensetzung der Prüfungskommission:

Prof. Dr. Hans-Dieter Evers
(Vorsitzende/Vorsitzender)

Prof. Dr. Solvay Gerke
(Betreuerin/Betreuer und Gutachterin/Gutachter)

PD. Dr. Peter P. Mollinga
(Gutachterin/Gutachter)

Prof. Dr. Christoph Antweiler
(weiteres prüfungsberechtigtes Mitglied)





Tag der mündlichen Prüfung : 10 June 2010
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

This thesis would not have been possible without the help and support of many people. Above all
I would like to thank Prof. Dr. Solvay Gerke for accepting me to be her supervisee from the
outset. Without her acceptance I could not enroll in the PhD program of Bonn Interdisciplinary
Graduate School of Development Research (BiGS – DR –) at the Center for Development
Research (ZEF) of Bonn University.
I owe a deep debt of gratitude to my second supervisor, PD. Dr. Peter P. Mollinga, for his
invaluable guidance and suggestion through out the preparation of this thesis. Without his
constant advice this thesis would not have been completed.
I am grateful to my advisor, Prof. Dr. Hans Dieter Evers, for visiting me in the field and giving
me the benefit of his advice and guidance in data collection and analysis. Without his field
mission, my data collection would have been insufficient for the analysis.
I take this opportunity to thank the librarian and all staff of the “BiGS – DR –” program of ZEF.
My thankfulness in particular goes to Ms. Zabel Rosemarie for her kind assistance in all matters
related to academic as well as social aspect.
I am also greatly indebted to the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for providing
financial support for this study. Without this financial assistance my study would not be possible.
I have special pleasure in expressing my appreciation to friends and colleagues who helped me to
accomplish this thesis. My deepest appreciation goes to Julia-Roswitha Kloos, Tatjana Bauer,
Nadine Reis, and Anna Hennecke at ZEF, and Veronika Kham who helped translating the
required summary of this thesis into German version. Thanks also go to Dr. Daphne Gondhalekar
for her proof read of the German summary. Without their assistance I could not submit this thesis
to the Faculty of Philosophy.
Last but not least I would like to thank my wife Arounna Vongsakhamphouy for her personal
support in the process of this thesis writing. To my son, Arounyadet Thim, he enriches my life
substantially. To my parent, parent in-law, sisters and brothers for their continuous support and
encouragement.
Ly Thim
June 2010
i iiABSTRACT
The purpose of this study was to explore how various actors have responded to hydropower dam
impacts in the Se San river basin as away to unpack how river basin management works in
practice. The Se San river basin is shared by upstream Vietnam and downstream Cambodia. In
1993, Electricity of Vietnam began constructing 720 MW Yali-Falls dam in upstream Vietnam
and the dam began to cause downstream impacts in Cambodia in early 2000. Since then conflict
between the affected downstream communities and upstream dam builder has been emerging
To study the responses, the concept of social interface of actor-oriented approach was used to
analyze the arena of conflicts at three levels including local, national and international arenas.
At local arena, two interesting responses were found. First, the responses emerged from local
communities in term of coping strategies to the dam impacts which were identified as very
limited. Some of their coping strategies caused destruction of natural resources such as
deforestation for new settlement and farming. Second, the responses were organized by NGO
network in Cambodia and abroad to establish a grass-root NGO for advocacy against the dam
building called Se San Protection Network. This network was built with a strong cooperation
with other NGOs across national and international levels but a weak collaboration with
government has been found. Although Vietnam and Cambodia governments recognized that the
dam has an impact on local livelihoods, compensation for past, present and future losses was
ignored and mitigation of impacts remains questions. As there is no tangible result from the NGO
Network, some affected communities have lost their confidence in supporting advocacy network.
If this continues to occur the strength of advocacy network tends to be weak in the future.
At national arena, responses were initially done through the Mekong River Commission for
which Cambodia and Vietnam are the members. Through the intervention of the Mekong River
Commission, a Joint Committee for Se San Management between Cambodia and Vietnam was
established to discuss and negotiate a number of actions such as mitigation measures, monitoring
water quality and impacts assessment study. No compensation issue has been discussed because
Cambodia government did not make a demand. The analysis of this study revealed that mitigation
measure was not fully implemented by the Joint Committee as water level fluctuation and water
quality still remains an issue. In addition, notification system on dam water release was not either
smoothly delivered to local communities because of poor communication facility. An important
finding in this arena was that the Cambodia government did not give much attention to solve the
iiiSe San issue. One of the examples is that the Cambodia joint committee whose task is to
negotiate with Vietnam had no budget to organize the meeting since 2004.
At international and global arenas the study found that the Electricity of Vietnam has used
various strategies to avoid cost such as shifting the debate of the Yali-Falls dam impact from
international and global levels to a bilateral one which was more favorable and easy to deal with.
In this case, problem was scaled down from a larger to a smaller context. At international arena,
the author also discovered that the role of the Mekong River Commission Secretariat in conflict
resolution is weak as the Secretariat has no mandate to preside over conflict resolution but rather
as a facilitation role to the parties. In this case negotiation between Cambodia and Vietnam was
done bilaterally which is favorable for Vietnam to control the game.
The last finding of this study was that Cambodia government has an interest in dam building and
has registered Electricity of Vietnam to build dams particularly for the section bordered to
Vietnam to boast political and economic ties between the two countries.
Overall, the author concluded that the planning process in the Se San River basin highly served
the interest of dam builders as well as national interest and failed to take into account the interest
of local communities whose livelihoods depend on river system for a living. To meet their
interests and goals, powerful actors zigzagged their strategies to avoid claims made by affected
communities and NGOs. Future study should deal with how Mekong River Commission’s role
shall be promoted to voice the power of local communities in dam development process.

Key words: river basin management, hydropower dam impact, social actors and responses, social
interface, and arena of conflict

ivTABLE OF CONTENTS

Acknowledgement i
Abstract iii
Table of Contents v
List of Figures ix
List of Tables x
List of Boxes x
Acronyms xi
Zusammenfassung xiii
Chapter 1 Introduction ……………………………………………………….………… 1
1.1 Introduction ………………………………………………………...……............... 1
1.2 Background to the study ………………………………………………………….. 1
1.3 An overview of the Se San River……………………………………………..…... 5
1.3.1 Physical geography …………………………………………………....……. 5
1.3.2 Elevation ……………………………………………………..…………..…. 7
1.3.3 Climate and rainfall ………………………………………………...………. 7
1.3.4 Population, ethnicity and economic characteristics ……..……………..…… 7
1.4 Research approach and methodology …………………………………………….. 9
1.4.1 Methodological design – three arenas ………………………..…………..… 9
1.4.2 Methods of data collection ………………………………………………….. 10
1.5 An overview of dam affected area in Ratanakiri province ……………..……….... 13
1.5.1 Overall area and population affected by dam ………………..……..………. 13
1.5.2 Overview of socio-economic characteristics ………………..…..………….. 15
1.6 Structure of thesis ……………………………………………………....………… 18

Chapter 2 Theoretical Review and Analytical Framework …………………..…..…... 20
2.1 Introduction ………………………………………………………………...…….. 20
2.2 Issues of river basin development …………………………………………....…… 20
2.3 Terms and concepts of river, river basin and management ……………..…….….. 22
2.3.1 River ……………………………………………………….……………..… 23
2.3.2 River basin ……………………………………………………..….……….. 23
2.3.3 River basin management ……………………………………………...……. 24
2.3.4 Organizational models of river basin management …………..…………..… 25
2.3.5 The complexity of river basin management ……………………..……….… 27
2.4 Concepts of development and its meaning in relation to hydropower development 28
v2.4.1 Concepts of development ……………………………………..………….… 28
2.4.2 The meaning of development in relation to hydropower development …….. 30
2.5 Concepts of planning …………………………………………………………....... 35
2.5.1 General views of planning ……………..………………………..………..… 35
2.5.2 Characteristics and intrinsic nature of planning ……………………………. 36
2.5.3 The process view of planning: management from the planning perspective
………………………………………………………………………….…… 37
2.5.6 Planning as a political process ……………………………………… 40
2.6 Analytical framework – an actor-oriented approach to social interface in planning
………………………………………………………………………………….…. 42
2.6.1 General concept of actor-oriented approach ……………………..……….… 43
2.6.2 Agency, knowledge and power ……………………..………………………. 45
2.6.3 Social interface …………………………………...………………..……….. 47
2.6.4 Arenas ……………………………………………...………..……………… 50
2.7 Summary and conclusion …………………………………….............…………… 51

Chapter 3 Water Resources Development Planning in the Lower Mekong Basin: an
Empirical Experience for Hydropower Development in the Se San Sub-basin ……... 55
3.1 Introduction …………………………………………..………………………...…. 55
3.2 Historical review of water resources planning and management in the Mekong
River Basin …………………………………………………………………..…… 55
3.2.1 Geographical location of the Mekong basin …………..…………………..... 55
3.2.2 The birth of the Mekong project from 1947 to 1956 ………..……..……….. 58
3.2.3 The Mekong Committee (1957-1977): an era for promoting hydropower
development on the Mekong’s tributaries ……………………………....….. 59
3.2.4 Interim Mekong Committee (1978-1994): planning during an uncompleted
member ……………………………………………………………….....….. 61
3.2.5 Mekong River Commission (1995-Present): reactivation of full
committee’s members ………………………………………..…………..…. 62
3.2.6 Discussion and conclusion ………………………………..……………..….. 65
3.3 The process of hydropower development in the Se San sub-basin …………....…. 67
3.4 Hydropower development in the Se San River: from Vietnamese perspective …... 69
3.4.1 The role of Se San River in economic development trajectory in Vietnam ... 69
3.4.2 Status of hydropower development in the Se San River ………………....… 72
3.5 Conclusion …………………………………………………………………..…..... 74

viChapter 4 Local Arena: Struggle the Battle – Success versus Challenge ……………. 77
4.1 Introduction ………………………………………………………..………..…….. 77
4.2 Hydropower dam impacts: differences in viewpoints ………………………...….. 77
4.2.1 The perspective of river bank communities ………………………….....…... 78
4.2.2 Other viewpoints on local impacts …………..………………………….….. 80
4.2.3 Concluding remarks ……………………………………..………………..… 87
4.3 Local coping capacity, knowledge and problems encountered …………..…….… 88
4.3.1 Coping capacity toward flood events …………………………..……….….. 88
4.3.2 Organizing cultural practices as a means for recovery ………..………..…... 90
4.3.3 Abandoning and relocating home ………………..……………………..…... 91
4.3.4 Taking self-precaution measure ………………..………………………..….. 93
4.3.5 Seeking other alternatives of livelihoods …………..…………………….... 94
4.3.6 Coping with the decline of water quality …………..…………………..…… 96
4.3.7 Concluding remarks ………………………..……………………………..… 97
4.4 The emerging response in to dam impacts ……………………………...…..……. 98
4.5 The formation of Se San Protection Network and network building ………..….... 100
4.6 Strategies and choices of Se San Protection Network ………..………………..…. 105
4.6.1 Propagation of Se San issues for transboundary dialogue …………..…….... 106
4.6.2 Formation of rivers coalition network: linking local actions to national,
international and global arenas and vice-versa ………..………………….… 108
4.6.3 Capacity building of the network ………………………………..…….…… 110
4.6.4 Community network meeting and petition preparation …………………….. 111
4.6.5 Research and documentation ……………………………………..……..….. 114
4.6.5 Political support …………………………………………..……………..….. 116
4.6.7 Restoration of local livelihoods through partners …………..…………..…... 118
4.7 Outcomes and challenges …………………………………..………………….…. 120
4.7.1 Communities’ awareness and support in advocacy ……………..………...... 120
4.7.2 Acknowledgement on dam impacts ……………………………..………..… 121
4.7.3 Challenges facing local communities and Se San Protection Network …….. 122
4.8 Conclusion ……………………………………………………………………....... 123

Chapter 5 National Arena: Success or Failure of Intervention? ……………………... 127
5.1 Introduction ……………………………………………………………………….. 127
5.2 State’s structure: actors and politics related to water resources management ……. 127
5.2.1 National government: line ministries and inter-ministerial committee ……. 129
vii5.2.2 Sub-national government: province, district, commune and village ……….. 133
5.3 Cambodia interest in water resources development ……………………..……..… 135
5.4 Governmental response to February 2000 flood event caused by water release
from Yali-Falls dam …………………………………………………….…..……. 137
5.4.1 Immediate response of national agencies ……………………….………..… 137
5.4.1 Responses of border provincial authorities ………..……………………..…. 141
5.4.3 Establishing mechanism for negotiating mitigation measure ………..…..…. 142
5.5 Mitigation measures ………………………………………………..…………..…. 144
5.5.1 Failure of notification system …………………………………..………..…. 144
5.5.2 Monitoring and mitigating water level fluctuation ………..…………..……. 147
5.6 The issue of water quality ……………………………………………..……..…… 149
5.7 Negotiating for an impact assessment ……………………………………..…..…. 152
5.8 Compensation …………………………………………………………………….. 155
5.9 Conclusion ………………………………………………………………………... 159

Chapter 6: International and Global Arenas: More Protests More Dams ………….. 162
6.1 Introduction ………………………………………………………….……..…….. 162
6.2 Protesting and fighting against the Yali-Falls dam: the role of distant actors ……. 162
6.3 Funding and withdrawing of support by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) …. 171
6.4 The Mekong River Commission Secretariat as an intermediary: responses and the
issue of power relation ………………………………………..………………...… 173
6.5 Negotiating Se San dams in Cambodia’s stretch …………………………………. 178
6.6 Conclusion ………………………………………………………..……………..... 182

Chapter 7: Conclusion …………………………………………………….………….… 185

References …………………………………………………………….…………………. 189
I. Interviews …………………………………………………………………..………. 189
II. Focus Group Discussion by District ……………………………………………..... 195
III. Bibliography …………………………………………………………………….... 198



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