Assessment and management of social impact on hydropower projects by the World Bank in developing countries
The World Bank supports energy generation projects as a major solution for economic growth and poverty reduction in developing countries. Over the past decades, as demand grows for clean, reliable and affordable energy, developing countries have relied more and more on hydropower to generate more revenues and ultimately reduce poverty. However, the complex development also brings a range of economic, environmental and social risks that need to be carefully addressed. This leads to various alternative views on the World Bank’s initiatives. This dissertation analyzes the assessment and management of social impact on both local communities and the nation for these hydropower projects.
Two World Bank hydropower projects are discussed in this dissertation—the Nam Theun 2 in Lao PDR and the Trung Son in Vietnam. Critical review of their assessment and management of social impact is carried out in the sequence of conceptual stage, strategic stage, tactical stage and operational stage, covering the project social assessment, consultation, participation, resettlement plan, ethnic minorities development plan, implementation arrangement, monitoring and evaluation. At each stage, the strength and weakness of each measure are evaluated against the World Bank’s corresponding standard and summarised with a cross-project discussion. Subsequently, comparisons are made between the actual projects deliveries and the expectations for both case studies.
3. Findings and Conclusions
My analysis and relevant evidence suggest that the design of these projects’ Social Assessment and Management Programmes are primarily matched with the World Bank’s policies. Overall, Trung Son’s programmes are more complete than those of Nam Theun 2. This is as anticipated because Trung Son is more recent and could learn from past projects. For example, while Nam Theun 2 satisfies most of World Bank’s recommendations, there is no obvious evidence indicating proper social diversity and gender analysis for the project or risk management programmes during the project’s conceptual stage. Then in terms of the actual projects deliveries, the World Bank and the International Rivers, an opposing dam organisation, present very controversial views. For example, the International Rivers claimes that there are unresolved issues with compensation after the completion of village resettlement for Nam Theun 2. However, the World Bank insists that all compensations are fair.
For both projects, the independent external monitoring teams and panels of experts provide fair evaluation on the projects’ promised positive outcomes. To conclude, the World Bank has made good effort in establishing and encouraging developing countries to follow proper frameworks related to hydropower projects. However, there are several areas for improvement, such as consultation process, participation, monitoring and evaluation.