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Ambio

, Volume 48, Issue 2, pp 180–191 | Cite as

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

  • Zali FungEmail author
  • Teerapong Pomun
  • Katrina J. Charles
  • Julian Kirchherr
Research Article

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 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We would like to thank our local partner organisation, The Mekong Community Institute, for assisting us and sharing their knowledge with us during fieldwork. We would also like to thank the two Ing River basin communities for hosting us, and our translator Numfon Jaiwong, for her assistance. Funding was provided by School of Geography and Environment, University of Oxford and Green Templeton College, University of Oxford.

Supplementary material

13280_2018_1062_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (90 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 91 kb)

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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Office of Environment and HeritageSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Mekong Community InstituteChiang MaiThailand
  3. 3.School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford University Centre for the EnvironmentUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  4. 4.Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development - Innovation StudiesUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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