How are the Nam Theun 2 resettlees going?

The World Bank has an interesting series of blog posts on the impacts of the Nam Theun 2 resettlement. Plenty of food for thought and debate.  Here is an extract from the most recent post:

The improvement in the standard of housing, roads and community buildings on the plateau relative to the situation before resettlement, and to most rural Lao communities, is obvious to anyone who visits. The survey shows that the resettlers also appreciate these benefits of the NT2 project. They also value improvements to education and health facilities. A few mention employment—some as a positive, others as a negative. Before the project the only significant employment opportunities were as civil servants or small-scale traders. During the construction period many households were able to take advantage of paid employment, and this was reflected in the fact that a significant number of households valued this improvement in 2006. Now that the construction phase of the project is largely complete, these opportunities are no longer available—which could be what several households view as a deterioration in employment. However, it is also clear that the new roads and businesses have generated an improvement in access to wage employment relative to the baseline. This is probably what some households are thinking of when they mention employment as a positive change.

The resettlers’ reports of what has got worse capture some of the challenges facing the project, and emphasize the importance of addressing these issues. Many are concerned about access to agricultural land and forests. Interestingly, community discussions held as part of the ongoing Participatory Land Use Planning (PLUP) process suggest that resettlers are concerned not only about land access now, but also about having sufficient land to pass down to the next generation, which is an important part of Lao culture. The Participatory Land Use Planning process will help to identify potential land use for households, including second generation resettlers. In addition, improvements in agricultural productivity, using crop rotation and fertilizer to generate impressive yields on even relatively poor quality land (to be discussed in a future blog) may be able to assuage some of the concerns about land quality.

Previous New Mandala discussion of Nam Theun 2 is available here and here.

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