Negotiating Local Livelihoods: Scales of Conflict in the Se San River Basin

TitleNegotiating Local Livelihoods: Scales of Conflict in the Se San River Basin
Annotated RecordNot Annotated
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsHirsch, Wyatt
Secondary TitleAsia Pacific Viewpoint
Key themesEcology and Livelihoods, Hydropower, Impact Assessment, Transboundary Governance

The Se San is an important tributary river basin of the Mekong. In 1993, Vietnam began building the Yali Falls Dam 80 kilometres upstream of the point at which this westward flowing river enters Cambodia. Ninety indigenous communities along the Se San River in two provinces of north-eastern Cambodia have been impacted severely by flooding, and a dramatically altered hydrological regime that affects fisheries and all other aspects of livelihood, such as river bank agriculture. Since 2000, when the first turbines were commissioned, the affected communities have been increasingly vocal regarding the impacts of Yali and the plans for several more dams on upper reaches of the river. A complex set of actors including non-governmental organisations, village, district and provincial authorities, national committees in Cambodia and Vietnam, the Mekong River Commission and a range of international players have become involved in a two-track process, which has nevertheless allowed little space for negotiation over the Se San River on the part of those most directly affected. This case has fundamental implications for governance and conflict management in the Mekong and more widely. The Australian Mekong Resource Centre has been working with local actors to document the Se San case as part of an international project on River Basin Management: a negotiated approach, in support of six cases that involve up-scaling of grassroots river basin initiatives in Africa, Latin America and Asia. In this article, we illustrate the significance of and problematise negotiation as a socially and politically embedded conflict management principle, with reference to the Se San case.


Copyright Journal


Cambodia, Vietnam

Document Type

Journal Article

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