Chinese overseas hydropower dams and social sustainability: the Bui Dam in Ghana and the Kamchay Dam in Cambodia

Author name: 
Frauke Urban, Johan Nordensvard, Giuseppina Siciliano and Bingqin Li
Year: 
2015
Month: 
September
Abstract: 

There is a shortage of empirical studies on the relationship between Chinese hydropower dams and social sustainability. Comparative research on Chinese-funded and Chinese-built hydropower projects is rare. This article aims to fill parts of this gap by discussing these issues in relation to Chinese overseas hydropower dams in Ghana (Bui Dam) and Cambodia (Kamchay Dam). Both projects are built by Sinohydro and financed by ExIm Bank. This article draws on in-depths interviews and focus group discussions with local communities affected by the dams, institutional actors in Ghana and Cambodia, Chinese actors, and dam builders. The article uses an environmental justice perspective as an analytical framework. The article concludes that the dam projects could improve their social sustainability framework in practice and theory; social benchmarking should be introduced and social policies need to be improved to be in line with international social standards on hydropower projects.

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