Cambodia – Four years into its establishment, ‘Lower Sesan 2 dam’ still causes suffering


Location: Stoeung, Treng province, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Language: Khmer, English

Duration: 00:06:16

Restrictions: A24

Sound: Natural

Dateline: 20-02-2022


Four years after its completion, the “Lower Sesan 2 dam” project that was inaugurated in 2018, has been a source of discomfort for many indigenous communities. They have been lamenting the fact that the dam has cost them their communities and they expressed their dissatisfaction about the compensations they received instead of their suffering. Government spokesperson Phay Siphan said the government has built a new and better community with schools and hospitals, explaining that the situation the local communities have got now is far better than that they had before the building of the dam. Local communities, however, would dispute this. Lay Mai, who is a native woman, said she is not happy with the compensation offered, adding that she would have preferred to stay in the flooded village, where she can still secure food. Em Sovannara, who is a political analyst, argued that the government does not have the right strategy to solve the local people’s problems.

Shot list:

– (Soundbite) H.E. Phay Siphan, the Royal Government Spokesman:

“Let me explain our measures and approach at developing the community where the dam is located. They [the government] provide a place to live; they provide a place for farming; compared with what it was before, they had nothing. They lived off fishing and stuff like that. So, we created a new community, they have a school and a hospital; they have everything; they’re receiving services from the government so their lives are much better. And they have support and money to start their relocation process.” 

– (Soundbite) an indigenous woman (Lay Mai):

“The new place Is not as peaceful as this old one here. It’s difficult to find food there. It does not have many places for us to find food and make a living. Here, we can secure food and make income.”

– (Soundbite) H.E Phay Siphan, the Royal Government Spokesman:

“Some people have ideas against the development of Cambodia. As a majority, we need energy. This nation has just woken up from the civil war, so it needs energy, so no matter what, we need energy. It doesn’t mean that we destroy the livelihood of the people living in the rural areas, but we provide a better livelihood for those people living in that area.”

– (Soundbite) an indigenous woman (Lay Mai):

“For me, even I am not happy with the compensation offered, I still have to leave this area because the dam water flooded my rice field and my village.”

– (Soundbite) Em Sovannara, a professor of political science and analyst:

“The dam affected many citizens, but it’s not so big that the government can’t help. The Cambodian government didn’t compensate the right people. Some government compensation was taken by the wrong people, and that’s why the affected villagers have a hard time. Cambodia can easily solve this problem if Cambodia wants to. Cambodian people are not so stubborn, if they could afford to relocate, then they would move. But the government doesn’t have the right strategy to solve their problems.”

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