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 IRN’s Pak Mun Campaign

The 136 MW Pak Mun Dam, which was completed in 1994, was built by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand with US$24 million in financing from the World Bank. From the outset, the project was highly controversial due to the predicted impacts on the rich and productive fisheries of the Mun River, the largest tributary of the Mekong River. Between 1990 and 1997, there was intense opposition to the dam by thousands of people living in local communities along the Mun River.

As a direct result of the dam, more than 20,000 people have been affected by drastic reductions in fish populations upstream of the dam site, and other changes to their livelihoods. The dam has blocked the migration of fish, and a fish ladder, promoted by the World Bank’s fisheries experts as a mitigation measure, has proved useless.

Today, International Rivers Network is working with Pak Mun villagers and the Assembly of the Poor to demand that the Pak Mun dam be decommissioned and the river restored. On March 23, 1999, more than 5,000 villagers occupied the Pak Mun dam site and established Ban Mae Mun Man Yuen No 1, the "Long–lasting Mun River Village No 1". They say they will stay until the gates are permanently opened, thereby restoring the fisheries of the Mun River.

In a victory for villagers, the Thai government agreed to open the dam gates in June 2001 while studies were conducted on fisheries, social impacts and the impact of the dam on Thailand’s electricity supply. Completed by Ubon Ratchathani University, this study recommended opening the dam gates for five years. However, this recommendation was rejected by the government, which decided to close the gates for eight months each year and shut the gates in November 2002.

  latest additions  
The Pak Mool Dam violates basic rights
The Nation, December 16, 2002
NGOs Urge Government to Open Pak Mun Gates
26 organizations wrote to Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra urging him to open the dam gates and restore the Mun River.
Government sponsored study recommends opening Pak Mun gates year–round
Ubon Ratchatani University researchers analyzed the impacts of decommissioning the dam and recommended opening the gates for at least five years.
Fisheries and Livelihoods Recovering Since Thai Government Opened Pak Mun’s Gates, says new report
Villagers affected by Pak Mun are finalizing research that shows fisheries are flourishing and people are regaining their livelihoods and dignity since the gates were opened in June 2001. Read their preliminary findings in an executive summary or a longer summary report.
Studies confirm Pak Mun’s Severe Impact on Fisheries
Bangkok Post, June 11, 2002. Click here for the article and photos of a rally in calling for permanent decommissioning of the dam.
Swimming against the current?
Story on community–based research at Pak Mun damsite and local knowledge of the Mun River. Bangkok Post, May 14, 2002
Mekong Giant Catfish return to Mun River
A Mekong Giant Catfish, an endangered species found only in the Mekong River, was caught for the first since Pak Mun Dam was built 10 years ago. 
Press Statement
A Long March Against Dam by the Assembly of the Poor.  Pak Mun and Rasi Salai Villagers launch long march from Ubon to Bangkok to call for permanent opening of dam gates.
Letter from Pak Mun Villagers
to World Bank demanding that Bank take responsibility for problems at Pak Mun.
Pak Mun Dam Gates Finally Opened
Read the letter to the Thai Prime Minister congratulating him on his decision. See photos of the open gates and the fish that have returned to the river.
Thai Prime Minister Visits Pak Mun Dam
Orders dam gates opened, EGAT refuses to comply. See the photos from the Prime Minister’s visit. 
Pak Mun Dam Gates to Open
World Rivers Review article, May 2001.