Up the river in Cambodia
26 October 2012
Communications and Documentary Adviser Felix Hude has recently started his volunteer assignment at 3S Rivers Protection Network (3SPN) in Ratanakiri Province in north-eastern Cambodia. 3SPN assists the dam-affected indigenous communities living alongside the Sesan, Srepok and Srekong Rivers.
In recent years the impact of these dams has been extremely serious, creating environmental chaos and the subsequent degradation of the natural livelihoods of more than 100,000 people. It has been identified that mismanagement of dam water flow upstream in Vietnam has been a causal factor in some of the huge flash-floods to sweep through the 3S River basin, carrying away whole villages, people, livestock and crops.
Recently, Felix visited communities on the Sesan River. His role is to set up a film and communications unit to document the impact of the dams.
“The Sesan River is huge,” Felix said. “Right now, post-rainy season, it’s full, and would be about 200 metres across. It’s one beautiful river! Considering the issues and the environment, filming up here is going to be interesting.”
“A big part of the initial working process has been for me to get up-country, visit the communities and get a formal introduction to the village elders. You don’t get anywhere without an introduction up here.”
3SPN have found that there is more than 20 further proposed hydropower dams, which pose a threat to the very existence of these communities
As a result of the impact of the dams, Felix said, “The villagers are highly suspicious of anybody, Cambodian or foreigner alike, who enters the 3S river basin without an invite. ‘Dam’ is not a good word in this part of the world.”
This is a position of the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program, an Australian Government, AusAID initiative. AusAID is working in partnership with AusAID to deliver AVID.