Dams on the Mekong River: Lost Fish Protein and the Implications for Land and Water Resources

TitleDams on the Mekong River: Lost Fish Protein and the Implications for Land and Water Resources
Annotated RecordNot Annotated
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsOrr, Pittock, Chapagain, Dumaresq
Secondary TitleGlobal Environmental Change
Key themesEcology and Livelihoods, Hydropower, Impact Assessment

Proposed dam construction in the Lower Mekong Basin will considerably reduce fish catch and place heightened demands on the resources necessary to replace lost protein and calories. Additional land and water required to replace lost fish protein with livestock products are modelled using land and water footprint methods. Two main scenarios cover projections of these increased demands and enable the specific impact from the main stem dam proposals to be considered in the context of basin-wide hydropower development. Using the two scenarios, we model land and water requirements to replace lost fish protein from proposed dam construction on the Mekong River. Estimation for additional water needs for domestic protein production from livestock range from 4% to 17%. Estimation for additional pasture land for domestic livestock ranges from 4863 to 24,188 km2 (13–63% increase). We show considerably higher land and water averages particularly for Cambodia and Laos. Consideration is given to significant economic, social and environmental impacts of this protein loss. Overall, the results suggest that basic food security is potentially at a high risk of disruption and therefore basin stakeholders should be fully engaged in strategies to offset these impacts.


Copyright Journal


Cambodia, Laos, Regional, Thailand, Vietnam

Document Type

Journal Article

Not Available for Download