Villagers living along the Nam Hai and Hinboun have always experienced regular natural flood events, but in recent years these have sometimes been exacerbated by the first Theun-Hinboun Project. The water added to these rivers by the THPC powerhouse gives some benefit during the dry season by providing improved navigation and more water for livestock and agricultural activities. But in the wet season it can contribute to flooding of villages and rice fields. Also, erosion of riverbanks caused by changes in water levels has affected fish populations.

During planning of the Expansion Project, THPC consulted with downstream villagers, who indicated a strong preference for relocation to flood-safe areas which they had already identified, and requested additional support for dry-season rice cultivation plus improved infrastructure and services. The potential sites named by the villagers were verified by the Social & Environmental Division and agreement was reached on relocation of villages (as outlined in the final RAP).

Relocation Strategy – Main Elements:

• Relocation of villages to flood-safe areas close to existing sites

• Dry-season irrigation systems

• All-weather roads and electricity supply

• Improved health and education facilities

• Technical assistance to reach income targets

Phase 1 relocated nine villages to two large sites at Phoumakneng and Phousaat between 2009 and 2012. Grouping villages in this way follows government policy for provision of services, but at the same time two other villages chose separate sites close to main roads. Phase 2, from 2013-17, relocated 12 villages along the Nam Hinboun and instituted livelihood initiatives, including provision of new and improved irrigation schemes.

Following completion of the relocation and provision of all associated infrastructure, THPC has been finalising its obligations in downstream villages, beginning with the process of preparing villages for "graduation" from livelihoods programmes and commencing community development planning using bottom-up approaches. Educational, health, livelihoods and agricultural subsidy support continue for the last villages relocated, while a number of opportunities remain for improving irrigation efficiency and livelihoods throughout the zone.

Click here to download the schedule for relocation of downstream villages.