Huge Dam in Laos to Displace Villagers, Imperil Rare Elephants

A massive dam project in a wildlife-rich area in Laos threatens to displace thousands of people and damage river ecosystems that hundreds of thousands depend on. The controversial project also imperils the last wild herds of Asian elephants and other animals found nowhere else on earth.

On March 31, the World Bank will decide whether to support the Nam Theun 2 Dam. Local residents cannot openly oppose the project, so your involvement is critical. Take action! Send an email urging U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow to ask the World Bank to oppose the Nam Theun 2 Dam.

Take action:

For thousands of years, the indigenous people of the Nakai Plateau in Laos have farmed the land and fished the nearby waters of the Nam Theun River (a major tributary of the Mekong) for generations. The so-called Nam Theun 2 Hydropower Project would force over 6,000 indigenous people living on the plateau to leave their homes and move onto land that is unfit for farming.

The billion-dollar project calls for damming the Nam Theun River to create a reservoir and diverting water to the Xe Bang Fai River, which will wreak ecological havoc in central Laos. The rivers abound with fish species that tens of thousands of people depend on for food.

The dam also threatens rare wildlife, such as white-winged ducks and one of the last wild herds of Asian elephants.

On March 31, the World Bank Board of Directors will decide whether or not to fund this controversial project. You can influence the Bank's support for Nam Theun 2 by asking the U.S. Secretary of Treasury John Snow, who wields enormous influence over World Bank decisions, to oppose the project when it comes to the Board for approval.

Take action:

Your letter will be addressed and sent to:
Mr. John Snow, U.S. Treasury Secretary

Dear [decision maker name automatically inserted here],

I am writing to express my opposition to World Bank financing for the billion-dollar Nam Theun 2 hydropower project in Laos. I urge the U.S. government to oppose Nam Theun 2 at the meeting of the World Bank's Board of Directors.

The Nam Theun 2 dam project will not provide the economic and social benefits that are being promised. In fact, the dam may increase poverty in the region as 6,000 indigenous people will be forced to move onto land that is infertile and unfit for farming. The dam will disrupt fisheries, destroying the livelihoods of tens of thousands of others. And dozens of endangered species, including one of the last wild herds of Asian elephants, could be pushed to extinction as the dam and its reservoir destroys the sensitive ecology of the region.

The World Bank claims that the dam is necessary for reducing poverty and saving wildlife. But ending poverty does not begin by destroying people's land and livelihoods. Please use your influence and authority to oppose World Bank funding of the Nam Theun 2 dam.




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März 2005

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