As plans move forward to develop Don Sahong, a dam designed for hydropower production in the 4,000 Island section of Southern Laos, the international community is taking notice. National Geographic put together some beautiful images depicting the traditional life in the area. Much of this area in Southern Laos is centered on fishing - traps can be found all around the waterfalls. Four thousand islands is an area of the Mekong where the river spreads out rather wide, and includes a number of islands, some large enough for communities of people. Missing from the images are the tourists who descend on 4,000 communities in tank tops, looking to party and play in the river or kayak out to see the river dolphins. The dolphins, Irrawaddy dolphins found only in rivers of Asia, are particularly vulnerable to the changes that will come due to the construction of the dam. Don Sahong is a dam considered controversial and construction was halted for a period of time for the Mekong River Commission to review the plans. Development resumed some months ago. Financing is coming in large part from Malaysia, a regional trade partner.
To Dam or Not to Dam? 12 Photos of the Mekong River
Explore the rapids, waterfalls, and islands of Southeast Asia’s Mekong river.
The longest river in Southeast Asia, the Mekong runs for 2,600 miles from the Tibetan Plateau down to the South China Sea. Inhabitants of the Mekong’s thousands of islands depend on the river for their food and livelihoods, yet it’s also a promising source of clean energy.
The government of Laos’ recent decision to build a hydroelectric dam on the Mekong has raised concerns with residents and with environmentalists, who worry the dam will interrupt fish migration and damage the river’s ecology.
These photographs show the unique landscape of the 4,000 islands area and the essential role the Mekong river plays in residents’ lives.