UMD 21: Dam Displacement and Local Power

Ruptured Villages and Widened Inequalities in the Localized Resettlement and Compensation Process of the Upper Paunglaung Dam

The government of Myanmar has begun building hydropower dams to meet the country’s growing demand for electricity; among them is the Upper Paunglaung Dam in Southern Shan State, home to mostly small Bamar villages. As construction was completed, two dozen villages and around 8000 people were relocated and promised compensation. The research uncovered complex power relations between the government, the village chairman, village leaders and villagers throughout the process of compensation and relocation. While dynamics in each location varied, powerful, asset-rich people were the decision makers at the local level in almost all cases. Those with less power had little chance to join in the decision-making processes, and lacked the knowledge or capital to shift to new livelihoods. Inequality in these communities has been exacerbated by these unequal processes, and in many cases has led to devastating impacts. This monograph is a new critical perspective on dam projects and their impact in Myanmar, laying bare these local processes where corruption and privilege remain rife.

Publication Date: February 2022