No more insects – Back to more mundane life on Nam Theun 2


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So I’m not eating insects any more (like I was last year*) as unfortunately that really isn’t my daily job (by unfortunate I mean the wildlife tracking, not the insect eating), but back in the office catching up on Nam Theun 2 (NT2) readings after coming back from a 2-week trip that included no insects.

It’s amazing how many things can happen in two weeks time, particularly if it’s an incredibly complex project we’re talking about:

Build the dam infrastructure, the tunnel that takes the water from one place to another, the regulating dam that will allow the water not to overflow, the power station where the energy will be produced, the new houses for the resettlers; connect the electricity; teach people how to switch on the lights and change a light bulb (the resettled villagers never had electricity in their previous homes); build water wells so people have clean water; build schools and equip them with materials like benches and chairs (not to mention books and a teacher); continue training villagers on new agricultural techniques like growing mushrooms and tomatoes and more efficient rice production... I could go on forever. Which is why it’s taking me some time to catch up on my reading.... ( See more photos of what I'm talking about).

Above, one of the old houses typical of this region. Below, the new houses the resetteled villagers are moving into. See more photos.
While I’ve been working on this project for almost two years, all of those living in Laos, this is the first time since then we’re approaching a physical “deadline”: i.e. the project is about ready to flood the reservoir, which means a number of actions need to be taken prior to that – particularly in terms of helping people move to their new villages and having all their houses ready (after all, the location of their previous homes is what will become the reservoir).

After endless hours spent in meetings with the Lao Government and the Nam Theun Power Company (NTPC,) I am quite confident everything that needs to happen before this ‘deadline’ will in fact be ready on time. I’m no expert by any means, but they seem to have very detailed documentation on where they are (for example, 678 out of 1272 houses fully completed by March 10, with the rest almost completed) and how they’re working to be where they need to be come April 10 – when the first step to the gradual flooding of the reservoir will take place.
I’m working with NTPC and the government on a list of all the actions that are taking place during the next couple of months and we’ll be putting that up on all our websites. This way, anyone that wants to know how the project is progressing can get a more clear idea of what is being done on a regular basis... (this should take a couple of days so check back in mid April to get this update).

*** To know more about the Nam Theun 2 Project click here.

(* The insect eating and wildlife tracking took place in February 2007, a bit over a year ago. One year later, I’m picking up where I left off and writing about NT2 again.)

Join the Conversation

B.C. Albaghetti
April 02, 2008

I have only recently discovered this WB blog site. While, generally speaking, all blogs are quite interesting (although some of the authors do not seem to understand that there are significant differences between blogging and making academic presentations), I would like to say that your recent postings about Laos, wildlife tracking, and the NT2 project are among the best written and interesting I have read as a non-economist. In your words there seems to be a love for Laos trascending the informational content itself. Good job.

April 03, 2008

Thank you so much for the feedback, I appreciate it. NT2 is such a complex project, I'm glad you were able to perceive that there is much more involved than it being a hydro project the WB is helping to finance, but that there is a huge chunk of personal life involved, of really caring about what happens, how people are resettled, how the wildlife is protected, etc. I'll keep writing, so keep reading ;-) Thanks again! (PS. Like you said, I do love this country... if you haven't, you should come, it really is an amazing place)