Luke Duggleby

Photographer
     
THREE DECADES OF AN ANTI-DAM STRUGGLE
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Nationality: British
Biography: Luke Duggleby is an award-winning British freelance photographer who has been based in Bangkok, Thailand, for more than 15 years. He works predominantly in Asia but also in Africa and further afield shooting documentary, portraiture and editorial... read on
Public Story
THREE DECADES OF AN ANTI-DAM STRUGGLE
Credits: luke duggleby
Updated: 12/02/20
Archived as: 
Since the mid-1990’s, a series of intense anti-dam movements across remote Thailand caused a rural-based social awakening that lead to continued social movements of remote communities against injustices until today. These initial struggles, namely that of the Pak Mun and Rasi Salai dam in Northeast Thailand, whilst being unsuccessful in their requests to decommission the structures not only empowered communities to confront the Government and corporations but ultimately forced national companies to shift most of their operations to neighbouring countries where the civic space was more limited.
 
In 1993, the Rasi Salai Irrigation dam began to operate on the Mun River, a tributary of the Mekong River, in a remote and impoverished corner of Northeast Thailand. The reservoir flooded the second most important wetland area in the country, and is part of the five decades-long, massive Green Isan Project, created to reduce irrigation issues in the drought-stricken area. As a consequence, thousands of households lost their land, livelihoods, culture and identity. The disruption triggered a rural exodus and local conflict which continues to this day: thirty years on, village heads, activists and NGOs still fight for compensation for the loss of people’s primary food source, while trying to help the local population find alternative sources of income.

This protest movement was inspired and supported by the communities impacted by and resisting the Pak Mun hydro-power dam, built around the same time at the confluence of the Mun and the Mekong on the Laos border. In the mid-1990’s, the Assembly of the Poor, an umbrella-organisation of numerous communities affected by infrastructure projects and land rights issues, emerged to organise people to fight for participation in the process of decision-making which affects their lives.

Yet three decades on, the community of Rasi Salai in Si Saket Province continues to demand the remaining compensation for loss of land and income whilst struggling to adapt to an environment that has irreversibly changed.

This documentary includes images taken by local photographers and community members during the 1990's. These negatives, kept at the centre of The Wetland People Association close to dam itself were scanned and preserved with the assistance of a Earth Journalism Network Special Grant.
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