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Contested Waterscapes in the Mekong Region: Hydropower, Livelihoods and Governance

By: François Molle (Editor), Tira Foran (Editor), Mira Käkönen (Editor)

448 pages, illustrations


Paperback | Jul 2014 | #217117 | ISBN-13: 9781138021181
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £29.99 $37/€34 approx
Hardback | Apr 2009 | #217118 | ISBN-13: 9781844077076
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £84.99 $104/€95 approx

About this book

The catchment area of the Mekong River and its tributaries extends from China, through Burma/Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and to Vietnam. The water resources of the Mekong region – from the Irrawaddy and Nu-Salween in the west, across the Chao Phraya to the Lancang-Mekong and Red River in the east- are increasingly contested. Governments, companies, and banks are driving new investments in roads, dams, diversions, irrigation schemes, navigation facilities, power plants and other emblems of conventional 'development'. Their plans and interventions should provide some benefits, but also pose multiple burdens and risks to millions of people dependent on wetlands, floodplains and aquatic resources, in particular, the wild capture fisheries of rivers and lakes.

Contested Waterscapes in the Mekong Region examines how large-scale projects are being proposed, justified, and built. How are such projects contested and how do specific governance regimes influence decision making? Contested Waterscapes in the Mekong Region also highlights the emergence of new actors, rights and trade-off debates, and the social and environmental consequences of 'water resources development'. Contested Waterscapes in the Mekong Region shows how diverse, and often antagonistic, ideologies and interests are contesting for legitimacy. It argues that the distribution of decision-making, political, and discursive power influences how the waterscapes of the region will ultimately look and how benefits, costs and risks will be distributed. These issues are crucial for the transformation of waterscapes and the prospects for democratizing water governance in the Mekong region. Contested Waterscapes in the Mekong Region is part of the action-research of the M-POWER (Mekong Program on Water, Environment and Resilience) knowledge network.

"With a diverse set of authors from assorted countries and mixed walks of life, this book brings a grounded, radical and refreshing perspective to the study of water in the Mekong region, a field of research which too often descends into technological simplifications."
- Jonathan Rigg, University of Durham, UK and author of Southeast Asia: The Human Landscape of Modernisation and Development

"This important book is overdue now that ill-advised mainstream dams are back on the development agenda? The authors' 'alternate water futures' based on 'improved water governance' are essential. Any hydro dams built on tributaries should be multi-purpose with affected riparian communities first among beneficiaries."
- Thayer Scudder, Professor Emeritus, California Institute of Technology and author of The Future of Large Dams

"Contested Waterscapes is an impressive array of approaches and topics that reflect the breadth and depth of a fascinating river basin. The volume probes whether the drives for hydropower and large-scale irrigation may be reconciled with livelihoods, and suggests that political agendas backed by constructed knowledge will be the determining factor. It is particularly relevant to policy-makers and students of the Mekong at a time when uncoordinated national 'development' at every drop in the river appears destined to lead to the inequitable outcomes the agendas have created elsewhere in the world."
Mark Zeitoun, Centre for the Study of Global Governance, London School of Economics and Political Science

"I found this book fascinating from a number of perspectives. First, it is very informative on a range of issues. It includes a great deal of information on the politics of dam development for both hydropower and irrigation. Second, there are a useful set of maps and tables locating and defining both completed and planned dam projects. Third, the fifteen chapters are conspicuously well written. Given the fact that thirty-seven co-authors contributed to Contested Waterscapes, we must give credit to the editors for their fine work. Even a reader well versed in various aspects of water resource development and management will find this book a valuable reference."
- Randolph Barker, Professor Emeritus of Agricultural Economics, New York State College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University

"Contested Waterscapes is an impressive contribution to the ltierature. Written in a scholarly yet accessible style, the book presents a coherent analysis of the links between livelihoods, governance, and hydropower – one of the most contested development issues in the region."
- Mountain Research Development


1: Changing Waterscapes in the Mekong Region: Historical Background and Context François Molle, Tira Foran, Philippe Floch
2: Old and New Hydropower Players in the Mekong Region: Agendas and Strategies Carl Middleton, Jelson Garcia, Tira Foran
3: Pak Mun Dam: Perpetually Contested? Tira Foran, Kanokwan Manorom
4: The Nam Theun 2 Controversy and its Lessons for Lao PDR Shannon Lawrence
5: Damming the Salween River Darrin Magee, Shawn Kelley
6: Irrigation in the Lower Mekong Basin Countries: The Beginning of a New Era? Chu Thai Hoanh, Thierry Facon, Try Thuon, Ram Bastakoti, François Molle, Fongsamuth Phengphaengsy
7: Landscape Transformations and New Approaches to Wetlands Management in the Nam Songkhram River Basin in Northeast Thailand David Blake, Richard Friend, Buapun Promphakping
8: The Delta Machine: Water Management in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta in Historical and Contemporary Perspectives David Biggs, Fiona Miller, Chu Thai Hoanh, François Molle
9: Hydropower in the Mekong Region: What are the Likely Impacts on Fisheries? Juha Sarkkula, Marko Keskinen, Jorma Koponen, Matti Kummu, Jeff Richey, Olli Varis
10: The 'Greening of Isaan': Politics, Ideology, and Irrigation Development in the Northeast of Thailand François Molle, Philippe Floch, Buapun Promphakping, David Blake
11: The Promise of Flood Protection: Dykes and Dams, Drains and Diversions Louis Lebel, Bach Tan Sinh, Po Garden, Suong Seng, Le Anh Tuan, Duong Van Truc
12: Songs of the Doomed: The Continuing Neglect of Capture Fisheries in Hydropower Development in the Mekong Richard Friend, Robert Arthur, Marko Keskinen
13: The Anti-Politics of Mekong Knowledge Production Mira Käkönen, Philip Hirsch
14: Demarginalizing the Mekong River Commission John Dore, Kate Lazarus
15: Contested Mekong Waterscapes: Where to Next? François Molle, Louis Lebel, Tira Foran

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François Molle is a Senior Researcher at the Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement, France and holds a joint appointment with the International Water Management Institute.

Tira Foran is a Research Fellow at Chiang Mai University's Unit for Social and Environmental Research, Thailand.

Mira Käkönen is a Researcher at Helsinki University of Technology in Water and Development Research Group.

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