The Mekong River is unique in that it flows through and between so many countries. Every country takes what it can from it, leaving the millions who depend on it for their livelihoods and survival in an increasingly perilous situation. A team of guest contributors went to two communities in Isaan—one where the Mekong first touches the region in Loei and one 600 kms away in Ubon where it leaves Thai territory to learn how two communities are dealing with a drastically changing environment.
The government’s push to reclaim forest land from encroachers in Ubon Ratchathani’s Khong Chiam district has threatened members of two communities who now face arrest and eviction from their land. To make things worse, construction of Chinese dams in the upper Mekong River in the past decade has severely impacted fish stocks and local livelihoods that depend on fishing.
Almost 27 years ago, communities in the Rasi Salai lost the wetlands, central to their lives, to a dam that flooded the surrounding lands. Thousands of families are still waiting to be compensated to this day. An economic valuation could measure the loss and its monetary value and help determine appropriate compensation.