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Is Dam Development a Mechanism for Human Security? Scale and Perception of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia and the Xayaburi Dam on the Mekong River in Laos

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Human security is a framework related to the stability and sustainability of political, environmental, economical, and socio-cultural areas of concern. Water resources around the world are under increased pressure from increased development, growing populations, pollution, and global climate change. Large-scale dam development while still popular for political and economic development reasons, has been found to result in costs that outweigh benefits in environmental and socio-cultural sectors. This research assesses the human security impacts from dam development at three scales: the international river basin, the nation-state, and the local affected communities. Human security includes aspects of political, environmental, economic, and socio-cultural sectors. A combination of quantitatively-derived parameters from global indices and field-generated qualitative interviews and observations are employed to understand how perceptions of impacts change dependent on scale and sector. Two case studies are analyzed to capture three scales of human security impacts from dam development: the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia and the Xayaburi Dam on the Mekong River in Laos. A new human security measurement is developed to consider qualitative aspects of interview data in order to compare the human security stability of very secure, secure, slightly insecure, and insecure to the global indexes. Comparisons between case studies, scales, and methods are drawn. Differences between human security and human development are highlighted. The conclusions are that human
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AN ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION OF
Jennifer Corinne Veilleux for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Geography presented on
April 25, 2014.
Title: Is Dam Development a Mechanism for Human Security? Scale and Perception of the
Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia and the Xayaburi Dam on
the Mekong River in Laos
Abstract approved: _____________________________________
Aaron T. Wolf
Human security is a framework related to the stability and sustainability of political,
environmental, economical, and socio-cultural areas of concern. Water resources around the
world are under increased pressure from increased development, growing populations, pollution,
and global climate change. Large-scale dam development while still popular for political and
economic development reasons, has been found to result in costs that outweigh benefits in
environmental and socio-cultural sectors.
This research assesses the human security impacts from dam development at three scales: the
international river basin, the nation-state, and the local affected communities. Human security
includes aspects of political, environmental, economic, and socio-cultural sectors. A combination
of quantitatively-derived parameters from global indices and field-generated qualitative
interviews and observations are employed to understand how perceptions of impacts change
dependent on scale and sector. Two case studies are analyzed to capture three scales of human
security impacts from dam development: the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile
River in Ethiopia and the Xayaburi Dam on the Mekong River in Laos. A new human security
measurement is developed to consider qualitative aspects of interview data in order to compare
the human security stability of very secure, secure, slightly insecure, and insecure to the global
indexes. Comparisons between case studies, scales, and methods are drawn. Differences between
human security and human development are highlighted. The conclusions are that human
security impacts due exist from dam development, but are of a different magnitude depending
upon scale, sector, and perception, as well as the datasets used for analysis. For the international
scale, I combined publicly available datasets Human Development Index (HDI), Human Security
Index (HSI), and the Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database Basin Country Units
(TFDDBCU) to create GIS based maps of watershed development and security ranking. For the
national scale I analyzed information provided through official documents, websites, and field
interviews. For the local scale I conducted empirical observation and field interviews in local
communities. I conclude that the best measurement of human security is from a combination of
scale, sector, and perception using qualitative and quantitative context and data for measurement.
© Copyright by Jennifer Corinne Veilleux
April 25, 2014
All Rights Reserved
Is Dam Development a Mechanism for Human Security? Scale and Perception of the Grand
Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia and the Xayaburi Dam on the
Mekong River in Laos
by
Jennifer Corinne Veilleux
A DISSERTATION
submitted to
Oregon State University
in partial fulfillment of
the requirements for the
degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Presented April, 25 2014
Commencement June 14, 2014
Doctor of Philosophy dissertation of Jennifer Corinne Veilleux presented on April 25, 2014.
APPROVED:
Major Professor, representing Geography
Dean of the College of Earth, Ocean, Atmospheric Sciences
Dean of the Graduate School
I understand that my dissertation will become part of the permanent collection of Oregon State
University libraries. My signature below authorizes release of my dissertation to any reader upon
request.
Jennifer Corinne Veilleux, Author
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Thanks to God for this opportunity and bringing me through this experience.
I am grateful for the generosity of so many religious Fathers, Mothers, Brothers, and Sisters in
the Catholic Community who gave me time, support, food, and shelter, and shared meals, prayer,
and laughter in practically every corner of the world. Over the last four years I have been hosted
and counseled by: Institute of the Incarnate Word, Missionaries of Charity, Capuchin
Franciscans, Medical Missionary Sisters, Comboni Missionaries, and St. John the Divine.
Special appreciate goes to Sister Incarnate Word, Sister Theotokos, Monsignor Pope, and Abba
Ayele for inspiring my heart on the toughest days, giving me eyes to see the beauty in the darkest
places, and reminding me why I am doing this.
This research would not have been possible without the financial support of Oregon State
University, the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, the Gray Family Fund, the
College of Science, the College of Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences, and the generosity
and willing support of other institutions around the world.
I am especially appreciative of my advisor, Aaron Wolf, for so many things, but especially for
consistently getting behind my big ideas, narrowing my scope, and giving me that needed push
to go after my dreams. I am grateful to members of my committee Michael Campana, Bryan Tilt,
and Gregg Walker for the hours of invested time, coffee, and meals surrounded by that endless
conversation. I hope you know how vital your guidance has been for me. The constant logistical
support and laughter, remote and actual, offered by Stacey, Melinda, and Renee has been crucial
in keeping to this pursuit.
My field research in Ethiopia depended on the generosity, time, logistical support, hosting, and
endorsement of the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation, the Ethiopian Ministry of Water and
Energy, and Ministry of Communications and Foreign Affairs. In particular I would like to thank
CEO Atto Meheret Debebe for believing in my work and opening the first door, Minister Barakat
Simone, Minister Alamayo Tengno and their hard working support staff for arranging my
research and travel from Addis Ababa to the Renaissance dam site. I’d like to thank the team at
the dam site: Engineer Semengnew, Ato Bubula, Ato Assefa, and Solomon for making my work
possible and efficient. Special appreciation goes also to International Water Management
Institute (IWMI) in Addis Ababa for sponsoring my business visa and providing office support.
My field work in Laos depended on the generosity, time, logistic support, hosting, and
endorsement of the Ministry of Energy and Mines, Xayaburi Power Company, and the Provincial
Government of Sayabouli. In particular I would like to thank the Director General Daovong
Phonekeo, Khamkong Kongvongsa of the Xayaburi Electric Power Company, and Governor
Bounphak Inthapanya District Chief of Sayabouli City. Special appreciation goes also to Kim,
David, and others at the Naga House in Vientiane, Laos for logistical and office support.
Serving as the voice of the local people to the ears of an international audience are translators
Tesfaye Girma and Singkham Lueyeevang. Without their professional support, incredible
patience, and cultural awareness I would not have obtained the rich datasets used in this study or
been able to experience the life in the local riverine communities. Their roles were crucial and I
am grateful for their dedication to keep to my intense schedule and face the sometimes adverse
conditions and climate.
Special acknowledgement finally must go to the friends and strangers, who fed me, housed me,
financed me, carried me, and helped me keep my sanity and sense of humor these last four years.
There are too many people to list that I feel hugely grateful toward, but I must list a few: Aseel,
Jehan, & Mousa, Cecily, Amber, Maya, Roxy, Coos, & Blue, Marina & Dan, Andrew, Jason,
Laura & Matt, Joe & Sebastian, Donna, Paul & the kids, Robbie, Phil, Teri, Joe Spellman; Sarah,
Kerry, & Rustyk. These people consistently providing levity and safety on my journey
(especially to and from airports!) Dr. Dan Nelson, Dr. Kea Duckenfield, Dr. Keith Shawe, and
Colonel Merrick Krause never failed to be direct, insightful, empathetic mentors over the past
decade. I would not have attempted this without you. Thank you all for believing in me.
CONTRIBUTION OF AUTHORS
A huge thank you to all those who helped this PhD take form: Aaron Wolf helped shape, guide,
and form this work from the beginning. Bryan Tilt helped with brainstorming the human security
key and edits on the dissertation. Bojan Šavrič helped me with graphic design on tables and
formatting the dissertation, and helped me with creating the maps using ArcMap. Cecily Yates
and Katie Stofer helped with editing the first four chapters. Johannes Liem helped with
visualization tools and ArcMap. Matthew Zentner helped with information, pointers, and
encouragement. Marco Clark helped with translating the IDAM research model design.
Thank you for all of your effort, expertise, and time.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
1. INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................................................... 1
1.1. Structure ................................................................................................................................... 2
1.2. Chapter Preview ....................................................................................................................... 4
1.2.1. Chapter 2 literature review .................................................................................................... 4
1.2.2. Chapter 3 Case studies ........................................................................................................ 10
1.2.3. Chapter 4 Methods .............................................................................................................. 12
1.2.4. Chapter 5 results ................................................................................................................. 14
1.2.5. Chapter 6 Discussion .......................................................................................................... 16
1.2.6. Chapter 7 Conclusion .......................................................................................................... 17
2. LITERATURE REVIEW ......................................................................................................... 18
2.1. Introduction ............................................................................................................................ 18
2.2. Scale ....................................................................................................................................... 18
2.3. International scale .................................................................................................................. 19
2.3.1. Complex adaptive systems .................................................................................................. 19
2.3.2. Politics sector ...................................................................................................................... 21
2.3.3. Environmental sector .......................................................................................................... 25
2.3.4. Economic sector .................................................................................................................. 31
2.3.5. Socio-cultural ...................................................................................................................... 35
2.4. National Scale ........................................................................................................................ 36
2.4.1. Politics sector ...................................................................................................................... 36
2.4.2. Environment sector ............................................................................................................. 39
2.4.3. Economic sector .................................................................................................................. 41
2.4.4. Socio-cultural sector ........................................................................................................... 43
2.5. Local Scale ............................................................................................................................. 47
2.5.1. Politics sector ...................................................................................................................... 47
2.5.2. Environment ........................................................................................................................ 48
2.5.3. Economic sector .................................................................................................................. 51
2.5.4. Socio-culture Sector ............................................................................................................ 52
3. CASE STUDIES ....................................................................................................................... 55
3.1. Introduction ............................................................................................................................ 55
3.2. The International Scale: Transboundary River Basins .......................................................... 56
3.2.1. The Nile .............................................................................................................................. 56
3.2.2. The Mekong ........................................................................................................................ 65
3.3. National Scale: ................................................................................................................... 71
3.3.1. Ethiopia ............................................................................................................................... 71
3.3.2. Laos ..................................................................................................................................... 76
3.4. Local-level Scale ................................................................................................................ 79
3.4.1. Ethiopia Blue Nile Subsistence Communities: Spotlight on Gumuz.................................. 79
3.4.2. Local Mekong Subsistence Communities ......................................................................... 100
4. METHODS ............................................................................................................................. 106
4.1. Introduction .......................................................................................................................... 106
4.2. Systems ................................................................................................................................ 106
4.2.1. Scale .................................................................................................................................. 107
4.2.2. Time .................................................................................................................................. 107
4.2.3. Sector ................................................................................................................................ 108
4.2.4. Perception ......................................................................................................................... 110
4.2.5. International Scale ............................................................................................................ 111
4.2.6. National Scale ................................................................................................................... 117
4.2.7. Local Scale ........................................................................................................................ 121
4.3. Data collection and analysis................................................................................................. 123
4.3.1. International Scale ............................................................................................................ 125
4.3.2. National Scale ................................................................................................................... 130
4.3.3. Local Scale ........................................................................................................................ 150
5. RESULTS ............................................................................................................................... 157
5.1. Introduction .......................................................................................................................... 157
5.1.1. International: transboundary river basins.......................................................................... 157
5.1.2. National: national agenda ................................................................................................. 158
5.1.3. Local: subsistence communities ....................................................................................... 159
5.2. International Scale ............................................................................................................... 160
5.2.1. Global Maps ...................................................................................................................... 160
5.2.2. Transboundary Basins for case studies ............................................................................. 163
5.3. National Scale ...................................................................................................................... 170
5.3.1. Demographics ................................................................................................................... 170
5.3.2. Content Analysis ............................................................................................................... 172
5.3.3. Ethiopia ............................................................................................................................. 172
5.3.4. Laos ................................................................................................................................... 179
5.4. Local Scale ........................................................................................................................... 188
5.4.1. Demographics ................................................................................................................... 188
5.4.2. Content Analysis ............................................................................................................... 190
5.4.3. Ethiopia ............................................................................................................................. 192
5.4.4. Laos ................................................................................................................................... 196
5.5. Recurrence themes ............................................................................................................... 204
5.5.1. National ............................................................................................................................. 206
5.5.2. Local ................................................................................................................................. 212
5.6. Human Security Key ............................................................................................................ 220
5.6.1. International Scale ............................................................................................................ 225
5.6.2. National Scale ................................................................................................................... 225
5.6.3. Local Scale ........................................................................................................................ 238
6. DISCUSSION ......................................................................................................................... 252
6.1. Introduction .......................................................................................................................... 252
6.1.1. Scale .................................................................................................................................. 252
6.1.2. Sector ................................................................................................................................ 252
6.1.3. Perception ......................................................................................................................... 252
6.1.4. Discussion Highlights ....................................................................................................... 253
6.2. International Scale ............................................................................................................... 256
6.2.1. Global maps ...................................................................................................................... 256
6.2.2. Transboundary River Basins ............................................................................................. 256
6.3. National Scale ...................................................................................................................... 259
6.3.1. Ethiopia ............................................................................................................................. 260
6.3.2. Human Security Key ......................................................................................................... 269
6.3.3. Laos ................................................................................................................................... 271
6.3.4. Human Security Key ......................................................................................................... 279
6.3.5. Comparison of Ethiopia and Laos National Scale Case Studies ....................................... 280
6.3.6. Ethiopia Local Scale ......................................................................................................... 281
6.3.7. Human Security Key ......................................................................................................... 286
6.3.8. Laos Local Scale ............................................................................................................... 287
6.3.9. Human Security Key ......................................................................................................... 292
6.3.10. Comparison of Ethiopia and Laos Local Scale Case Studies ......................................... 293
7. CONCLUSION ....................................................................................................................... 296
7.1. Introduction .......................................................................................................................... 296
7.2. Research Answers ................................................................................................................ 296
7.2.1. Human security is not the same as human development. ................................................. 296
7.2.2. Development impacts security differently at international, national, and local scales. .... 298
7.2.3. Development impacts security differently in different sectors (political, environment,
economic, and socio-cultural). .................................................................................................... 299
7.2.4. Perception of what is important to human security changes depending on the scale of
respondents as well as sectors considered. ................................................................................. 300
7.2.5. Quantitative data is not enough to describe human security dimension impacts of dam
development on transboundary rivers. ........................................................................................ 301
7.3. Conclusions on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam ...................................................... 302
7.4. Conclusions on the Xayaburi Dam ...................................................................................... 304
8. PostScript ................................................................................................................................ 308
9. BIBLIOGRAPHY ................................................................................................................... 318
LIST OF FIGURES
Figure Page
Figure 1: Resilience-based model of river system change due to dam development. .................. 30
Figure 2: Least Developed Countries List 2008 with HDI parameters: South Sudan has since
been added .................................................................................................................................... 42
Figure 3: UN Human Development Index 2008 ........................................................................... 51
Figure 4: Blue Nile River Facing Upstream from the Renaissance Dam Project Site,
Benishangul-Gumuz State, Ethiopia ............................................................................................. 57
Figure 5: The Mekong River Upstream From Xayaburi Dam Project Site in Dry Season,
Sayabouli Province, Laos.............................................................................................................. 66
Figure 6: Mekong River water balance (SIWRR 2014) ............................................................... 68
Figure 7: Improved road on the north side of the Blue Nile River that is used to transport
equipment and people to and from the Renaissance dam project site .......................................... 74
Figure 8: Bridge under construction on Mekong River will make the local ferry obsolete ......... 78
Figure 9: Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam Project Site, facing south, September 2012.......... 80
Figure 10: Gumuz boys on the banks of the Blue Nile River, upstream of the Renaissance Dam
project site ..................................................................................................................................... 82
Figure 11: Gumuz woman on Market Day in China Camp .......................................................... 83
Figure 12: Gumuz relocation-affected family near to Renaissance Dam project site .................. 84
Figure 13: Founder of Wednesday Market and his second wife .................................................. 85
Figure 14: Extent of Gumuz Ethnic Group in Ethiopia and Sudan (Ahland 2012) ...................... 86
Figure 15: Lowland area that will be flooded by Renaissance Dam, Blue Nile (Abay) River in
background .................................................................................................................................... 87
Figure 16: Land-cover type in Benishangul-Gumuz State (Shete 2011) ...................................... 88
Figure 17: Catfish caught in the Blue Nile River and Gumuz fisherman ..................................... 89
Figure 18: Variety of birds near the Renaissance Dam Project site ............................................. 91
Figure Page
Figure 19: Gumuz boys pan for gold in the riverbank .................................................................. 92
Figure 20: Gumuz boy shows gold mined from the riverbanks .................................................... 93
Figure 21: Market at China Camp with locally produced goods and outside goods brought in
from Bahir Dar or Asossa ............................................................................................................. 93
Figure 22: Gold flakes and measuring scale at Wednesday Market ............................................. 94
Figure 23: Gumuz woman hauls harvested sorghum from her farm in the riverbank .................. 95
Figure 24: Gumuz woman pans for gold in the Blue Nile River .................................................. 97
Figure 25: Grinding area with mud base and river stones ............................................................ 98
Figure 26: Gumuz village woman................................................................................................. 99
Figure 27: Mekong River Sayabouli Province, near to Xayaburi Dam site ............................... 100
Figure 28: Relocated Sayabouli Province village with electrification and fish farms ................ 101
Figure 29: Mekong River bank with bananas brought from upstream for trading ..................... 102
Figure 30: Laotians fishing, panning for gold, and farming along the Mekong River ............... 103
Figure 31: Lao children playing in the Mekong River ............................................................... 104
Figure 32: Lao woman with her three great grandchildren ......................................................... 105
Figure 33: Map of the Nile River basin boundary and related national territories ..................... 114
Figure 34: Map of the Mekong River basin boundary and related national territories............... 115
Figure 35: United Nations Least Developed Countries List and Year of Inclusion (UN 2014) . 117
Figure 36: Nile River basin Extent in Ethiopia ........................................................................... 119
Figure 37: Mekong River Basin Extent in Laos ......................................................................... 120
Figure 38: Local-scale Gumuz Local-scale Community in Benishangul-Gumuz, Ethiopia ...... 122
Figure 39: Laotian Local-scale Community in Sayabouli Province, Laos ................................. 123
Figure 40: Human Security Index Version 2.0 Data Breakout ................................................... 128
Figure Page
Figure 41: Ethiopia Map of the Populated Places Visited for Empirical and Interview Data
Collection .................................................................................................................................... 135
Figure 42: Lao Map of the Populated Places Visited for Empirical and Interview Data Collection
..................................................................................................................................................... 136
Figure 43: Example of a Mind Map from Laos National Scale Interview ................................. 138
Figure 44: Mind Map of Cumulative Economic Sector Themes at Ethiopia National Scale ..... 140
Figure 45: Venn diagram used to demonstrate sector overlaps of themes or statement ............. 142
Figure 46: Sector and subsector breakout for measurement of human security stability ........... 144
Figure 47: Breakout of water subsector in the Environment Sector ........................................... 146
Figure 48: Construction Work Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam September 2012 ................ 148
Figure 49: Construction Work Xayaburi Dam Project Site March 2013.................................... 149
Figure 50: Market Area with River-produced Food and Herbs, Gumuz Community Market,
Benishangul-Gumuz State, Ethiopia ........................................................................................... 153
Figure 51: Typical Village Center and Chief’s Administrative Tukul, Benishangul-Gumuz State,
Ethiopia ....................................................................................................................................... 154
Figure 52: Blue Nile Riverbank Where Local Gumuz Community Pans for Gold, Benishangul-
Gumuz State, Ethiopia ................................................................................................................ 154
Figure 53: Laotian Villages, Old and New Infrastructure .......................................................... 155
Figure 54: Riverbank Fishing and Artisanal Gold Panning Area ............................................... 156
Figure 55: Map of Global HDI by River Basin and Basin Country Unit ................................... 161
Figure 56: Map of World HSI by River Basin and Basin Country Unit..................................... 162
Figure 57: Map of Nile Basin HDI by Basin Country Unit ........................................................ 165
Figure 58: Map of Nile Basin HSI by Basin Country Unit......................................................... 166
Figure 59: Map of Mekong Basin HDI by Basin Country Unit ................................................. 168
Figure Page
Figure 60: Map of Mekong Basin HSI by Basin Country Unit .................................................. 169
Figure 61: Venn Diagram for Human Security........................................................................... 205
Figure 62: Ethiopia National-scale Cross-sector Theme Recurrence Diagram .......................... 207
Figure 63: Lao National-scale Cross-sector Theme Recurrence Diagram ................................. 210
Figure 64: Ethiopia Local Scale Respondents' Theme Recurrence ............................................ 215
Figure 65: Laos Local Scale Respondent's Recurrence Themes ................................................ 218
Figure 66: Human Security Key Scoring Colors and Numbers .................................................. 221
Figure 67: Human Security Key Model Breakout ...................................................................... 223
Figure 68: Decision tree for Political .......................................................................................... 224
Figure 69: Decision tree for Environment .................................................................................. 224
Figure 70: Decision tree for Economic ....................................................................................... 224
Figure 71: Decision tree for Socio-cultural ................................................................................ 225
Figure 72: Cumulative Ethiopia National Scale Word Cloud for Top 15 Words ....................... 268
Figure 73: Cumulative Laos National Scale Word Cloud for Top 15 Words ............................ 278
LIST OF TABLES
Table Page
Table 1: Spatially scaled systems for this study. ........................................................................ 107
Table 2: Sectors used in this study and components of those sectors ......................................... 109
Table 3 Sector meaning for 3 scales of perception: International, National, and Local ............. 111
Table 4: Types of datasets used at different the three scales. ..................................................... 124
Table 5: Human Development Index Parameter Composition ................................................... 125
Table 6: Questions for National-level participants ..................................................................... 131
Table 7: Demographics on Respondents for Interviews at National Level ................................ 133
Table 8: Questions for local-level field interviews ..................................................................... 151
Table 9: Demographics of Local-level Respondents .................................................................. 152
Table 10: Resulting Sectors of most concern by Scale ............................................................... 157
Table 11: Km
2
and % area of Nile River basin countries from TFDD River Basin Registry..... 163
Table 12: River Basin Registry of % and area in km
2
of the Mekong River BCUs. .................. 167
Table 13: Demographics on Respondents for Interviews at National Level .............................. 171
Table 14: Questions for National-level participants ................................................................... 172
Table 15: Ethiopia National-level Themes Frequency in Political Sector .................................. 174
Table 16: Ethiopia National-level Theme Frequency in Environmental Sector ......................... 176
Table 17: Ethiopia National-level Themes Frequency in Economic Sector ............................... 177
Table 18: Ethiopia National level Theme Frequency in Socio-Cultural Sector ......................... 179
Table 19: Laos National level Theme Frequency in Political Sector ......................................... 182
Table 20: Laos National level Theme Frequency in Environmental Sector ............................... 184
Table 21: Laos National level Theme Frequency in Economic Sector ...................................... 186
Table 22: Laos National level Theme Frequency in Socio-cultural Sector ................................ 188
Table Page
Table 23: Demographics of Local-level Respondents ................................................................ 190
Table 24: Questions for local-level field interviews ................................................................... 192
Table 25: Ethiopia Local-Level Theme Frequency in the Political Sector ................................. 193
Table 26: Ethiopia Local-Level Theme Frequency in the Environmental Sector ...................... 194
Table 27: Ethiopia Local-Level Theme Frequency in the Economic Sector .............................. 195
Table 28: Ethiopia Local-Level Theme Frequency in the Socio-Cultural Sector ...................... 196
Table 29: Laos Local-level Themes Frequency in Political Sector ............................................ 198
Table 30: Laos Local-level Themes Frequency in Environmental Sector .................................. 200
Table 31: Laos Local-level Themes Frequency in Economic Sector ......................................... 202
Table 32: Laos Local-level Themes Emerged in Socio-cultural Sector ..................................... 204
Table 33: Security Indices Consulted for Human Security Key Development .......................... 221
Table 34: Ethiopia National Scale Median and Mode Human Security Key Scores.................. 227
Table 35: Ethiopia National Present: Political ............................................................................ 227
Table 36: Ethiopia National Present: Environment .................................................................... 228
Table 37: Ethiopia National Present: Economic ......................................................................... 228
Table 38: Ethiopia National Present: Socio-culture .................................................................... 228
Table 39: Ethiopia National Future: Political ............................................................................. 229
Table 40: Ethiopia National Future: Environment ...................................................................... 229
Table 41: Ethiopia National Future: Economic .......................................................................... 230
Table 42: Ethiopia National Future: Socio-culture ..................................................................... 230
Table 43: Ethiopia Official Future: Politics ................................................................................ 231
Table 44: Ethiopia Official Future: Environment ....................................................................... 231
Table 45: Ethiopia Official Future: Economic............................................................................ 231
Table Page
Table 46: Ethiopia Official Future: Socio-culture ...................................................................... 232
Table 47: Laos National Scale Median and Mode Human Security Key Scores ....................... 233
Table 48: Laos National Present: Politics ................................................................................... 234
Table 49: Laos National Present: Environment .......................................................................... 234
Table 50: Laos National Present: Economic ............................................................................... 234
Table 51: Laos National Present: Socio-culture ......................................................................... 235
Table 52: Laos National Future: Politics .................................................................................... 235
Table 53: Laos National Scale Future: Environment .................................................................. 236
Table 54: Laos National Future: Economic ................................................................................ 236
Table 55: Laos National Scale Future: Socio-culture ................................................................. 236
Table 56: Laos Official Future: Politics ...................................................................................... 237
Table 57: Laos Official Future: Environment ............................................................................. 237
Table 58: Laos Official Future: Economic ................................................................................. 238
Table 59: Laos Official Future: Socio-culture ............................................................................ 238
Table 60: Ethiopia Local Scale Median and Mode Human Security Key Scores ...................... 240
Table 61: Ethiopia Local Present: Politics .................................................................................. 241
Table 62: Ethiopia Local Present: Environment ......................................................................... 241
Table 63: Ethiopia Local Present: Economic.............................................................................. 241
Table 64: Ethiopia Local Present: Socio-culture ........................................................................ 242
Table 65: Ethiopia Local Future: Environment .......................................................................... 242
Table 66: Ethiopia Local Future: Economic ............................................................................... 243
Table 67: Ethiopia Local Future: Politics ................................................................................... 243
Table 68: Ethiopia Local Future: Socio-culture.......................................................................... 243
Table Page
Table 69: Ethiopia Official Future: Politics ................................................................................ 244
Table 70: Ethiopia Official Future: Environment ....................................................................... 244
Table 71: Ethiopia Official Future: Economic............................................................................ 245
Table 72: Ethiopia Official Future: Socio-culture ...................................................................... 245
Table 73: Laos Local Scale Median and Mode Human Security Key Scores ............................ 246
Table 74: Laos Local Present: Politics........................................................................................ 247
Table 75: Laos Local Present: Environment ............................................................................... 247
Table 76: Laos Local Present: Economic ................................................................................... 247
Table 77: Laos Local Present: Socio-culture .............................................................................. 248
Table 78: Laos Local Future: Politics ......................................................................................... 248
Table 79: Laos Local Future: Environment ................................................................................ 249
Table 80: Laos Local Future: Economic ..................................................................................... 249
Table 81: Laos Local Future: Socio-culture ............................................................................... 249
Table 82: Laos Official Future: Politics ...................................................................................... 250
Table 83: Laos Official Future: Environment ............................................................................. 250
Table 84: Laos Official Future: Economic ................................................................................. 251
Table 85: Laos Official Future: Socio-culture ............................................................................ 251
Table 86: Breakout of community by scale and case study and related primary concern .......... 255
APPENDIX
For additional material that includes a complete set mind maps for each interview, collective
mind maps for each case study scale, word clouds for each interview and case study scale, flow
charts for the human security key, high resolution maps of each basin, related publications by the
author, the author’s research blog, and photos of the project sites please visit:
http://www.transboundarywaters.orst.edu/research/Human%20Security%20in%20Nile%
20and%20Mekong/index.html
DEDICATION
Each journey has a beginning and, as far as I can recall, this one began during night courses I
attended at Naugatuck Valley Community Technical College, in Waterbury, Connecticut: It was
there, in those classrooms, that I met Professor William Foster III and Professor Lucy Anne
Hurston, who became my first academic mentors. Through their example, encouragement, and
enduring friendships, I learned to be brave enough to go further, to push harder, to question the
limits of my intellectual curiosity, to accept that there are many different perspectives and
different walks, and to search for the real reasons behind the reasons we are given. They
challenged me to live a richer life and to ‘jump at de sun’. I dedicate this work to both of them.
Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to "jump at de sun." We might not land on the
sun, but at least we would get off the ground.
- Zora Neale Hurston, Dust Tracks on a Road, 1942.
1
1. INTRODUCTION
“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find that it is hitched to everything in the
Universe” John Muir, 1911
Human security is a broadly defined term that, for the purposes of this study, serves as a
framework to capture multiple scales of present stability and future sustainability in political,
environmental, economical, and socio-cultural systems. Recent studies of dam development find
that impacts of large-scale dams include myriad costs that are overlooked due to expected
benefits (Ansar et al. 2014, Tullos et al. 2013, Richter et al. 2010, WCD 2000). These impacts
may become more complex when the dam is proposed for development on an internationally
shared river. The UN’s Millennium Development Goals (that target 2015) contain language that
pertains indirectly to the promotion of hydropower development as an answer to global energy
needs. The UN’s Human Development Report and associated Least Developed Countries (LDC)
list identifies countries most in need of development attention and aid. Due to global economic
shifts in resources during the last decade, some of the world’s LDCs are now able to secure funds
to realize large-scale dam development to address economic development efforts. This study
examines two of those projects, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and the Xayaburi Dam,
from perspectives of the Nile and Mekong transboundary river basins, the nations that are
constructing the dam, Ethiopia and Laos, and the local affected subsistence communities
geographically located near to where the dam is being constructed on these rivers. Perceptions
are analyzed through the multi-scalar and multi-sector framework of human security and
compared across sector and scale. Also, comparison is made between quantitative-data derived
global indices, and qualitative-data derived fieldwork and interviews.
Perception is based on access and availability of information, environment, belief, and
experience. Recent research suggests that the perception of large-scale dams as beneficial for
economies and societies is driving current decision-making in favor of this type of development
project more strongly than the actual economic and social benefits (Ansar et al. 2014). This
research finds three distinct communities of perception in the Nile and Mekong transboundary
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river basins. These are described as the international river basin, the nation-state, and the local
subsistence communities.
When a dam is developed in a transboundary river basin that exhibits instable characteristics of
human security, as measured by global indices and/or interview-based responses in field work,
the resulting challenges may go beyond previously understood costs and benefits connected to
dam development. A dam development project may bolster, may destroy, or may have no
influence on local, national, or regional stability and/or sustainability in political, environmental,
economical, and/or socio-cultural systems at different time scales. In this study I collect evidence
of potential and actual change as reported by communities and their experience with
interdependent or dependent systems connected to the river through field interviews. I then
analyze this qualitative data and measure the responses through a Human Security Key
developed to assess content and empirical observation qualities in this study. I base the Human
Security Key on existing indices and rank the responses in reflection to the United Nations
Human Development Index (HDI). I then can compare and contrast this analysis with globally
accepted ranks of the HDI and the UN’s experimental Human Security Index. Through
comparison I can determine whether assessing human security at multiple scales is more
accurately captured by global indices, field interviews and empirical observation, or a
combination of both the quantitative and qualitative derived information. Whether development
of large-scale dam projects is appropriate for emerging economies is a topic of debate between
policy makers, environmentalists, economists, and social scientists because of perceived costs
and benefits.
1.1. STRUCTURE
In order to simplify the complexity of this study, the content is presented by scale, sector, and
case study throughout the text. The scale is in general described as international, national, and
local. The human security sectors are political, environment, economic, and socio-culture
systems. The detailed description of these bounded systems is given in Chapter 3. The two case
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studies are, as mentioned, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile River and the
Xayaburi Dam on the Mekong River.
I use scale for the overall structure because of the significant difference present in analysis of the
gathered qualitative data from the indices from the quantitative content collected from field
interviews and empirical observation. This distinction is important because the different scales of
communities have different roles and influences connected with dam development.
- International-scale community concerns, perceptions, and attitudes toward human security
aspects of a transboundary river basin drive political decisions and financial investments in
development projects in developing countries.
- National-scale community concerns, perceptions, and attitudes toward human security
aspects of a transboundary river drive decisions to implement large-scale water resources
development.
- Local-scale community concerns, perception, and attitudes toward human security aspects of
a transboundary river are driven by direct dependence.
Though these different communities have different agendas and relationship to dam development
projects, their concerns, perceptions, and attitudes influence their decisions and result in impacts
throughout the different-scaled communities.
The study considers two case studies of major dam development projects on internationally
shared rivers in the Nile and Mekong River basins for three geographic scales and two time
scales. The international community perspective is captured through the application of the HDI
and the newer expanded Human Security Index (HSI) to basin country units (BCUs) taken from
the Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database (TFDD). Time in this analysis, is subsumed.
The national and local scale community perspectives are based on 10 months fieldwork to
include official and unofficial interviews and empirical observations. These were collected in
Ethiopia and Laos from August 2012 through May 2013. A total of 104 official field interviews
are analyzed and measured for the 4 identified aspects of human security: politics, environment,
economics, and socio-culture. The interviews and empirical data were conducted in 10 Ethiopian
urban centers and 11 Ethiopian villages on the Blue Nile River, and in 4 Lao urban centers and 3
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Lao villages on the Mekong River. The qualitative-based results are fed into a measurement tool
developed for this study termed “Human Security Key to assess perception of interviewees and
official information for present and future time scales. This is the first such attempt to apply
human security as a formal concept on transboundary basins at multiple scales. This is also the
first independent research collected on the local communities who will be displaced by both the
Renaissance and Xayaburi dam projects.
This analysis can be used for policy makers, dam developers, decision makers, security analysts,
and civil society to engage in planning, management, and preparation for future uncertain change
resulting from dam development and potentially resulting related internal and external factors of
change to include regional instability, climate change, and natural disasters.
1.2. CHAPTER PREVIEW
1.2.1. CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW
Approximately 45% of the earth’s terrestrial surface, excluding Antarctica, is covered by an
estimated 276 transboundary river basins (TFDD 2014, Wolf 1993). Transboundary rivers are
rivers shared by territory in more than one country (Wolf et al. 1999). Of the number of large
dams on rivers worldwide has grown from 5,000 in 1950, to 45,000 in 2000, and over 50,000 in
2006 (Richter et al. 2010), an unknown number of these are found in transboundary river basins.
Seventy percent of global rivers are dammed, for purposes of flood control, water storage, water
supply, (Kummu and Varis 2007) and are responsible for 19% of global energy generated by
hydropower (WCD 2000). Dam construction has increased accessible global water supplies by
28% (Kummu and Varis 2007), which is an estimated amount of 8,000 km
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water (Chao, Wu
and Li 2008). This has provided water resources for 12%-16% of global food production
(Richter et al. 2010).
Dam development has displaced 40-80 million people (WCD 2000) and adversely impacted an
estimated 472 downstream river-dependent people (Richter et al. 2010). Dams damage
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ecosystems and the environment in ways that are poorly understood and often overlooked.
However, social and environmental cost due to dam development has not deterred dam
development popularity. Despite anti-dam protests in the late 20
th
century and environmental
and social costs of dam development identified by the World Commission on Dams Report in
2000, the international community continues to embrace dam development as a positive and
beneficial type of global development for renewable energy and securing water supplies
(Bosshard 2010, Berga et al. 2006).
Although seven of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals subsume issues of water
development for basic supply and sanitation (Gleick 2004), the Goals also contains language that
promotes environmental sustainability (Van Koppen, Moriarty and Boelee 2006) which may
translate into renewable energy development in the face of growing energy demands worldwide.
Because of the large mega-watt output of hydropower, and renewable energy classification, dams
are an obvious development choice for developing countries rich in water resources with high
hydropower potential.
Dam development worldwide continues unabated, restricted only by financial constraints (Berga
et al. 2006). In the past, financing large dams came from limited financial sources, but this has
changed more recently. Global economic changes in the last decade have allowed for new
foreign direct investments from the emerging market economies, countries that were not as
financially significant in decades previous (Luo, Xue and Han 2010). This economic shift,
coupled with developing countries with unrealized hydropower potential, is leading to new
controversial dam development on rivers, some of which are found in transboundary river basins.
This is exemplified in the two cases of the Renaissance and Xayaburi dam projects.
River systems are as much ecological systems and natural resource systems as they are political,
economic, and social systems. However, water resources are requisite for all living systems
because there is no alternative. This is arguably a more immediate reality than the importance to
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economic systems, political systems, and socio-cultural systems. At the start of the 21st century,
human consumption constituted 54% of all available renewable water resources and, with
population growth, this percent is projected to increase to 70% by 2025 and to 90% by 2030
(Krchnak 2013). These figures do not represent total potential global freshwater resource
demand as more than 1.2 billion people lack access to safe drinking water and 2.4 billion people
lack access to proper sanitation (Gleick 2003) and the global population continues to grow
exponentially.
Water resources-use is typically understood as divided between ecosystem, domestic,
subsistence, municipal, agricultural, industrial, energy, cultural, and commercial demands and
political and economic interest. But water resources are threatened by contamination, climate
change, groundwater exhaustion, uncoordinated and unsustainable development, political power
imbalance, lack of stewardship, aging or inadequate delivery and treatment infrastructure, and
increasing demand (Wolf, Yoffe and Giordano 2003, Zeitoun and Mirumachi 2008).
Several studies have examined how already-stressed vulnerable systems could be driven past a
tipping point by shifts in climate (Barnett, Adam and Lettenmaier 2005, Dabelko 2008, Mabey
2007). Themes in these studies suggest that securing, managing, and stabilizing water resources
is important for planetary health, human societies, and development efforts. Because water, as a
resource, is connected to ecosystems and environmentally, economically, politically, and
culturally to societies living along its banks, as well as to national communities that claim the
river within sovereign borders, and neighboring international communities that share the river
up- and down-stream, finding the right balance of use and conservation is an ongoing concern.
There are governments targeted by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and
Least Developed Countries list for water, energy, and economic development. LDCs with major
water and related natural resources are looking toward exploiting those natural resources to meet
the development targets. This development is measured most commonly economically by
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increased GDP. Within this context there are benefits for society, politics, and economies from
dams. Chapter 2 is a literature review of the definitions, assumptions, and various frameworks
and history behind narratives and frames in human security, water resources, dams, development,
scale, and perception. The papers span multiple disciplines, primarily geography, anthropology,
water resources, security studies, philosophy, and political ecology. This research depends upon
an interdisciplinary approach to consider such complex and interconnected systems. Water
resources studies are, by nature, interdisciplinary because of the far-reaching aspects of use and
users. Some of the terms used in this research are new to the discourse and as such are still
poorly defined. I highlight this when it comes up.
Chapter 2 also covers the theoretical frames of resilience, modernization, and securitization, used
in the analysis, approach, and understanding of the subject. These theories are considered under
an umbrella of complex systems framework. The theories help identify both the strengths and
weaknesses of the systems considered, what parts of the system are important for what aspects of
human society, better understanding of the motivation toward development from national and
international values.
Resilience theory is applied to ecological and human systems as a way to understand system
adaptability, flexibility, or vulnerability (Holling 1973, Cosens and Williams 2012). In this
study, measuring resilience of the river and dependent systems is a way to understand how dam
development can impact human security. Resilience theory is applied most often to
environmental change, but also has application to social systems and human psychology
adaptations. The theory helps describe and understand how change can be absorbed by a system
or can alter that system to reconfigure in a new state. Change, in this context, is understood to be
an altering or driving internal or external force, such as impacts on different scales of
communities and in different sectors from dam development. I apply this theory to identify
strengths and weaknesses of river and dependent systems in the face of change.
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Modernization theory states that human society must undergo a natural evolution of development
to progress and reach a more politically evolved (read: democratic) and peaceful international
and intranational (or sub-national) state (Rostow 1960). W.W. Rostow, who popularized a linear
model theory of modernization, was instrumental in the establishment of US AID (Mikesell
1970, Sidaway 2006). His theory reflected the attitude of the international community at the
time, and in many ways, still does. The theory again gained popularity in the post-9/11 discourse
about the importance in the spread of democracy. This theoretical perspective offers one basis
for persistent decisions to build dams in the 21
st
century based on mid-20
th
century assessments
of rivers. This perspective runs contrary to late-20
th
century studies that found long-term costs of
dams can outweigh short-term benefits (WCD 2000). Securitization theory gives the basis for the
four sectors of focus in human security.
Global economies are compared through indices like the UN’s HDI. The strength of a country’s
economy is thought to depend on the state of that country’s development. For the HDI, this is
measured by a combination of a country’s import and export activity, domestic trade, GDP, and
human resources. A country’s development is not based directly on its infrastructure, but
indirectly because of success in the above mentioned areas, which are dependent upon
infrastructure to support import/export, trade, GDP, and human resources. Dams are a form of
infrastructure that enables success in these other areas directly and indirectly.
Theory has evolved for centuries to address why one country succeeds where another fails. The
popular impetus behind today’s development discussions is based on modernization theory.
Although the theory is considered imperfect and even controversial in academic circles, it was
popular at the time of the formation of agencies such as the USAID and continues to leave its
mark on the way we understand how to address issues related to poverty. This theory posits that
a country must go through a natural linear process of social and political development, through
economic development. It further puts forward that the ideal society is a democratic one and that
peace may follow if all countries evolve through the five stages.
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The modernization theory goal results in evolution of society and cultures through development.
Improved water and sanitation systems can improve human morbidity from water-borne diseases
and diarrhea by 25% and 32% respectively (Sanctuary et al., 2004). Dam development, as
mentioned previously, allows for increases in access to electricity and water for agriculture.
Dams may also compete with other water uses, especially felt in river-dependent subsistence
communities, and like what happened in countries like the United States, can result in complete
obliteration of indigenous or traditional societies and/or cultures.
Securitization theory considers possible threats that extend beyond traditional national-level
political and economic to include threats to and from social and environmental security concerns
(Buzan 2001). This theory offers the basis for the identified categories for human security used
in this study. Understanding the extent of changes brought about by development to rivers and
their dependent systems through these three theories is important for understanding the detailed
security of society and nature, as well as understanding the future stability of the river system
after a big dam change. Nations are concerned with political stability and overall economic
stability. Subnational and supranational communities, the international aid and donor community
included, are concerned with social and environmental stability. However, both nations and these
communities are concerned with infrastructural or development stability. Dams are both a type of
infrastructure and a type of development, so of concern at many levels and for many people.
Human security is contested interdisciplinary body of literature that spans security studies,
international relations, water resources, human rights, human health, international development,
political science, and military studies discourse. Acceptable definitions of the term vary from
very narrow to very broad and so there is no one acceptable definition of the term (Edson, 2001;
Elderling 2010). The understanding within securitization studies helps shape the framework for
this particular study and application of the concept. For this study, the term “human security”
refers collectively to political security, environmental security, economic security, and socio-
cultural security. These are explained in detail in Chapter 4. I see human security as a versatile
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framework that can have application across complex systems in these above mentioned sectors at
various scales, but points back to the sustainability and stability of the system in question (i.e.
national scale; socio-culture sector).
1.2.2. CHAPTER 3 CASE STUDIES
Chapter 3 covers backgrounds of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile River
in Ethiopia and the Xayaburi Dam on the Mekong River in Laos. I present the political, natural,
economic, and historic and cultural context at three scales: the international basin, the countries
of Ethiopia and Laos, and the subsistence riverine communities, focused on the Gumuz ethnic
minority in Ethiopia, and Laotians in Laos.
Due to the geographic orientation and size of the Nile River and Mekong River basins, there are
a variety of climates in the basin. The evaporation rate in the Nile basin is high and in some
places there is more than 70% water loss well before the river reaches the Mediterranean Sea
(WCC 1999). Though the 1959 Nile basin Treaty lists the average flow of the river as 84
BCM/yr and 10 BCM/yr loss to evaporation and seepage (TFDD 2014). These figures need to be
updated to reflect current climate and infrastructure. Though the waters of the Nile River are
100% allocated to Egypt and Sudan under an international treaty, there are 9 other countries in
the basin with development plans. The waters of Mekong are shared and there is no specific
allocation by country.
Both the Nile and Mekong Rivers experience monsoon-pulse precipitation patterns.. This means
that their waters are refreshed by cyclical wet seasons of high precipitation and followed by dry
seasons of relatively low or no precipitation. The Nile River is the longest river in the world with
a transboundary basin that experiences continual volatile political unrest, harsh environmental
conditions, poor economies, and rapidly increasing populations (Veilleux 2013). The Mekong
River is the world’s most biologically (fish) productive river with a transboundary basin that
spans oppressive communist governments and political unrest, rapidly changing land-use and
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related localized climate change, developing economies, and increasing populations (Pech and
Sunada 2008). Both transboundary river basins, at the international scale, are experiencing
political and diplomatic changes driven by economic development opportunities in countries on
the UN’s Least Developed Countries list. These are reflected in changes in development on the
river and related natural resources systems. Chapter 3 explains the details of the international
political influence and impact on the river systems historically, presently, and speculates on
possible future outcomes.
Both dams in this study are the largest water resources development projects for the respective
governments, and are just the first of several dams planned on the international rivers. Both
countries are using non-traditional forms of funding for the respective dam projects. Ethiopia is
raising the money for the dam domestically and from the Diaspora through donation and selling
bonds. Laos is receiving foreign direct investment from Thailand a termed “south-south
transaction” (Aykut and Ratha 2004).
The Renaissance Dam is Ethiopia’s first development megaproject with a projected installed
capacity of 6,000 MW. The project cost is estimated at $4.6 billion USD (Veilleux 2013).
Ethiopia currently has only about 2,000 MW of installed capacity and 80% of that comes from
hydropower (Bartle 2002), though as recently as 2000 an estimated 90% of Ethiopians used
biomass burning for cooking and heating (Mekonnen 1999). The dam is being developed on the
Blue Nile, domestically referred to as the Abay, River in the remote Benishangul-Gumuz State
near to the Sudan border. The watershed of the Blue Nile River accounts for 50% of all surface
water resources in Ethiopia, but it is highly seasonal. The majority of the 80 million nationals
live under the poverty line and annually Ethiopia is the recipient of food aid due to an extended
drought and food insecurity. The local population where the dam is being developed is majority
ethnic minority group called the Gumuz. This marginalized community is located predominantly
in the remote Blue Nile River valley and do not have access to basic infrastructure, historically
subsist on the river and related natural resources, and are some of the poorest people in Ethiopia.
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The Xayaburi dam is the first dam developed on the Lower Mekong River and largest dam
project in Laos. The dam is being constructed near to the Thai border in a remote part of Laos.
The Xayaburi Dam will have an installed capacity of 1260MW and an estimated cost of $3.6
billion USD (Vaidyanathan 2012). Though the dam is being constructed in Laos, 80% of the
energy will be exported to meet Thailand’s growing domestic energy needs. Laos is on the LDC
list and revenue from the dam is expected to help boost national GDP to allow for the country to
take itself off of the list. The local population where the dam is being developed is traditional
subsistence communities. The communities did not have access to basic infrastructure before the
dam project began.
Both dam projects had been a full year underway at the time of this research and both had caught
attention of international media criticism. Both dams are the first water resources development
projects of significance and this scale for their governments. The Renaissance Dam is Ethiopia’s
first megaproject with a projected installed capacity of 6,000 MW and located on the contentious
Blue Nile River. The Xayaburi dam is the first dam developed on the Lower Mekong River. The
success of each project will alter regional, as well as national, politics and economies and
Chapter 3 sets the background for what the dams may alter.
1.2.3. CHAPTER 4 METHODS
Chapter 4 gives an overview and description of my hypotheses, research design, research
questions, methods, and analysis. The overall hypothesis that dam development is a mechanism
for human security is dependent on the following three sub-questions:
1. Is dam development a mechanism for human security?
1. Does human security stabilization from dam development change
according to the scale considered?
2. Does human security stabilization from dam development depend
upon the sector considered?
3. Relevant development costs and benefits are determined by a
dominant value system, does this change according to
international, national, or local perceptions?
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In order to answer these questions, appropriate methods need to be identified and used. Due to
the multi-scale and multi-sector nature of the study, several methods are considered and used.
This leads to the following question:
Are quantitative proxies enough to understand change to security from development? Or is
qualitative data needed for context and capturing systemic complexity?
Measuring different types of information, whether quantitative economic values or qualitative
educational context, at only one scale or with one predominant system of human security in
mind, the overall impacts of dams can be masked or missed entirely. As already stated, the
present study attempts to capture both quantitative and qualitative data for the political,
environmental, economical, and socio-cultural systems at three scales. This is accomplished by
building two case studies through qualitative data method collection and analysis that describe
the general perceptions of international, national, and local communities in each case as well as
quantitative data based Human Security Index (HSI), an index built from the United Nations
Human Development Index for international and national scaled communities.
I describe how I geographically and ideologically bound the systems for research by scale and
sector. I present the methods I use to collect and analyze the separate datasets used in this study.
Several datasets are used, depending on scale, and several analytical methods are used
appropriate to the type of data being analyzed. For the international scale, I use ArcGIS mapping
and retain the method of ranking from the HDI and assign ranking for the HSI data sources.
For both the national and local scale qualitative field interviews, I use mind maps to deconstruct
each interview and then create collective mind maps to group themes into the four human
security sectors. I build theme tables for each of the four human security sectors to measure
frequency of information narrated. I identify which of these themes occurs across different
sectors and express this in Venn diagrams. Lastly, I take the combination of narrative and
empirical observations gathered during fieldwork to answer questions in the Human Security
Key. The Key is developed to measure the qualities of the narratives as they relate to the same
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ranking scale of the HDI very secure, secure, slightly insecure, and insecure. These results can
be compared with the results of the HDI and HSI.
For each case study I consider the international, national, and local community scales separately.
The international scale is described through quantitative datasets used to generate the Human
Development and Human Security Indices. I combine these indices with the TFDD BCUs to
project HDI and HSI by transboundary basin. Each basin is described by BCU ranking and then
given an overall ranking can then be compared across global basin rankings.
The national and local scales are described through qualitative context derived in field
interviews, empirical observations, and information from official documents. The national scale
is collected from the state capitals, and other major towns and cities. The local scale is collected
from villages near to the dam development sites. Comparing the three scales reveals differences
and similarities between the perspectives, values, and priorities related to the four human
security sectors.
1.2.4. CHAPTER 5 RESULTS
The results of the analysis and assessments of the case studies are presented by international,
national, and local scales. The global and transboundary basin-wide HDI and HSI scores are
given. Each set of results is described in detail and then compared across scale, sector, and case
study. Frequency tables are described for the most interesting or significant trends in each sector.
From this, recurrence themes are isolated and analyzed for their contribution to resilience or
vulnerability to the overall human security system. This is important to note as the recurring
themes are likely hinged upon the dam development.
The Nile River basin has a collective low HDI and HSI scores. The Mekong River basin has a
collective mid HDI and HSI score. Comparing these scores with the internal country perception
from the national-level interviewees reveals a difference in results by scale. The Ethiopian
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national-scale perception reveals a higher human security score in some areas than the
international-scale ranking. The Lao national-scale perception reveals a lower human security
score in some areas than the international-scale ranking.
The most relevant themes at the national level for Ethiopia are particularly concerned with
economic importance and the social important of the Renaissance Dam. The most relevant
themes at the national level for Laos pertain to environmental concerns, economic concerns, and
lack of political transparency. At the local level, both Ethiopia and Lao respondents indicate the
importance of the respective rivers to everyday life in all sectors, especially in both cases, for
flood recession agriculture. In Laos respondents indicate that fish, after water, is the most
important river resource environmentally, economically, and socially. In Ethiopia respondents
indicate that gold, after water, is the most important river resource environmentally,
economically, and socially. In both cases, dam development will change the local access to
water, fish, and gold.
The Human Security Key is used to analyze qualitative data for present and future time scales
according to the interviewees and official documents and interviews. The general trends of
similarities and differences between the perceptions are highlighted and compared across case
study and scale. For Ethiopia, the national perception taken from the interviews is more in line
with the official perception than in Laos. In Laos, perception between national-level respondents
and the official perception deviates most markedly in the areas of politics and environment. In
both Ethiopia and Laos, the national and official perception of the future economies is most
similar.
The local scale perception of the future in Ethiopia is more similar to the official perception of
the future, in general, than it is in Laos. The locals in Ethiopia are completely in line with the
official perception of the future environment. The biggest deviations are in economics and socio-
culture, but not very big differences. The locals in Laos are most dissimilar to the official
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perception of the environment. There is also a difference of perception of future politics. The
biggest similarities of Lao local and official perceptions are in economics.
1.2.5. CHAPTER 6 DISCUSSION
Chapter 6 discusses the entire body of work in the context of the hypotheses, and presents
whether the initial questions have been answered by this methodology and inquiry. Discussion
for the international scale explores the information given in the global and regional river basin
maps of HDI and HSI. The additional parameters in the HSI allows for change to the country
rankings in the Nile River basin. Comparatively, the additional HSI parameters do not change
much in the Mekong River basin rankings.
The national scale explores the interview data results by case study and draws comparisons
across the Ethiopian and Laotian national responses. The most distinct differences between the
case studies are that in Ethiopia the national scale interviewees are supportive of the dam and
feel less interested in environmental and social impacts at the local level. In Laos the national
scale interviewees are not expressly supportive of the dam and feel more interested in
preservation of the environment and protection of the local populations from negative social
impacts. In both case studies respondents are supportive of development and alleviation of
poverty. In both case studies the officials support their decision to build the dam in order to
respond to issues of poverty, to elevate the country from the Least Developed Country status,
and to become the regional center for energy supply.
The local scale explores the interview data results by case study and draws comparisons across
the subsistence communities’ responses. These responses appeared more similar across case
study as both communities use the river resources in a similar way: farming, fishing, mining,
domestic use, and transportation. The biggest change in both communities will be the loss of
traditional knowledge in how to live on the natural river systems and practice flood recession
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agriculture. For the Gumuz communities a big change will be the loss of gold panning. For the
Laotian communities a big change will be the loss of river fishing.
The significant difference in these communities is that Laotians recognize a difference in fish
catch and climate changes over the last five years. This change is so significant that local are
changing their traditional livelihoods and seeking other forms of employment. The Gumuz
community is more remote and marginalized in Ethiopia and there are little to no alternatives to
their traditional livelihoods at the moment.
The Human Security Key results for the case studies are also discussed. In general, the key
reveals a relative harmony in the Ethiopian perceptions between the interviewed communities
and the official information and a dissonance in the Laotian perceptions between the interviewed
communities and the official information.
1.2.6. CHAPTER 7 CONCLUSION
The chapter describes an overall review of the work, highlights useful suggestions about moving
forward, and identifies areas in need of further research and consideration. The original questions
are revisited and presented as answers:
- Human security is not the same as human development.
- Development impacts security differently at international, national, and local scales.
- Development impacts security differently in different sectors (political, environment,
economic, and socio-cultural).
- Perception of what is important to human security changes depending on the scale of
respondents as well as sectors considered.
- Quantitative data considered on its own is not enough information to describe human security
impacts of dam development on transboundary rivers.
Each case study conclusion is also presented by scale with recommendations.
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2. LITERATURE REVIEW
“If I have seen further it is by standing on [the] shoulders of Giants.” Sir Isaac Newton
2.1. INTRODUCTION
The following literature review presents the academic basis for this study. The literature I cite
here is not exhaustive, but it helps to define terms, give academic history of concepts, and is
either directly or indirectly relevant to the terms and concepts I use in this study. As stated in
Chapter 1, the question of whether dams are mechanisms for human security is broken into three
sub-questions of scale, sector, and perception. This section defines what scale is, of what the
sectors are composed, and philosophic and sociologically grounded ideas of perception.
Initially, the concept of scale is introduced. Thereafter, the chapter is organized by international,
national, and local scales and within each scale, the sectors of politics, environment, economics,
and socio-culture. There are overlaps and redundancies, but I have attempted to fit the
appropriate set of papers with the appropriate scale and sector.
2.2. SCALE
There is debate within geographic literature about the existence of and relevance of scale
(Christopher Brown and Purcell 2005), though even those who discount still define scale as a
nested hierarchy of different sized and bounded space that is socially constructed and sometimes
alterable (Marston, Jones and Woodward 2005; Marston 2000). Without getting involved about
why scale is in debate in this study scale refers to the above definition. Scale is bounded in this
study by international, national, and sub-national or local communities. There is a shift in
perception, orientation, identity, and platforms for communication within the three scales that I
use in this work, identified as separate physical scales and nested in the larger international river
basin context.
19
Three general levels of scale are employed to describe and understand interactions concerning
the security of water resources: the individual, national, and international systems (Buzan and
Wæver 2009). This study and the structure of its presentation are organized by scale. As already
introduced in the structure of the introduction, each chapter reflects a grouping of the text based
on international, national, or local scale as a general concept. Within each scaled section, the
information is further grouped by the particular sector it is most relevant to: political,
environment, economic, or socio-cultural. These sections reflect the breakdown of human
security as introduced in the previous chapter. There are some natural overlaps in this method,
and where important, the overlaps are highlighted or subsumed.
2.3. INTERNATIONAL SCALE
2.3.1. COMPLEX ADAPTIVE SYSTEMS
Complex system theory is an interdisciplinary method of understanding a concept, such as an
ecosystem or an institution, as a series of non-linear relationships (Lansing, 2003). The theory
spanned ecology, mathematics, and computer sciences initially, then gained popularity in the
natural and social sciences as an attempt to integrate theory between disciplines to cover
sustainability issues (Gunderson, Holling and Allen 2009, Holling 1973, Holling 2001). The
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) describes the factors that impact a
system to include factors such as “social, political, ecological, economic…foreign debt,
structural poverty, global environmental problems, and social/political/economic conflicts”
(Holling 2001). I use this approach as an overarching conceptual perspective framework in this
research. This approach is echoed in resilience and securitization theories and geographic studies
in human relation to place and resources.
The “adaptive” modifier in complex adaptive systems refers to adaptive cycles of change in
response to “growth, accumulation, restructuring, and renewal” from internal and external
drivers (Gunderson et al. 2009). These factors come from the IUCN framework (Gunderson et al.
2009).This adaptation takes place at several interconnected scales (Holling 2001). The systems
20
have a process of feedback and learning and response, but must have the potential to change, a
relationship of controlling variables, and capacity to adapt. Feedback loops, whether naturally
occurring or man-made, will change and enhance or degrade the system, depending on the
driver. Drivers are agents of change, such as a dam, community, or weather. The Human
Security Key analysis of the case studies in this work examine the adaptive capacities present,
while the dam is being constructed, and future, when the dam is complete, through the perception
of the stakeholders involved at the local and national levels.
This research examines human security and dam development on river systems, all of which are
themselves complex systems, as well as scale. Human security as a system is broken out in the
next section, but for this study covers issue areas of politics, environment, economics, and socio-
cultural sectors. Dam development as a system is understood as human engineered landscape
(HEL) alteration. River systems are complex combinations of hydrologic, geologic, and biologic
factors. The transboundary rivers in this study are layered also with socio-cultural uses of water
and related resources, the politics that form diplomatic relationships between riparian countries
and govern the socio-cultural uses of the resources, and the economies that drive the resources
use. The above breakout of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) identified
sustainability factors overlaps with many of the factors that comprise this study.
The authors Lance H. Gunderson and C. S. Holings wrote the most cited work on complex
systems, as applied to ecological and social systems and coined the term “panarchy” to describe
how those systems function. I work in this study to simultaneously preserve the system
complexity of overlapping factors, drivers, and sectors, and simultaneously attempt to simplify
those relationships so they are understandable and meaningful, as well as measureable. Through
this I attend to pinpoint issues of interest for resilience, vulnerability, adaptive capacity, and false
assumptions about security and development.
21
2.3.2. POLITICS SECTOR
Human security
The term relatively new term “human security” is used across disciplines, in and out of
academia, and does not have one accepted definition. The prevalence of the use of “human
security” speaks to the popularity of the term. More recent studies have attempted various types
of measurement by narrowing the definition to encompass one aspect of the vague defining
language: freedom from fear, freedom from want (Eldering 2010, Khong 2001). Critics from
disciplines to include human rights, security, gender, development, environment, political
science, and international relations argue that the weakness and strength of the term is
simultaneously the ambiguity of its use and definition (Paris 2001, Thomas and Tow 2002).
Human security can be understood, in essence, as a term employed to describe security concerns
that cover issues as far ranging as local to global scales and from economic to military
insecurities. The term appears in governmental policy, academic literature (Paris 2001), and the
international development community (Eldering 2010).
The term has come under fire in the literature as being too vague to prove useful for
measurement, analysis, or academic research (Eldering 2010, Paris 2001). Though to date, there
are several measurements used for human security, including the United Nation’s 2008 Human
Security Index, built upon the existing Human Development Index with added categories of
social and environmental parameters (Hastings 2010, Eldering 2010). In some of the literature,
human security is synonymous with international development (Paris 2001, Duffield 2006).
Mark Duffield identifies the merging of security and development and following this post-1990s
development is a form of conflict prevention (2001). He identifies the idea of the ‘liberal peace’
concept, the idea that development follows liberal economic theory, social reconstruction, and
conflict resolution and that warfare is treated as consequence of underdevelopment and accuses
the international community of operating under pseudo-scientific principles (Duffield 2001).
22
Recently though, some scholars address and challenge the separate nature of these concepts
(Eldering 2010).
It is argued that the term human security is useful for non-state actors, such as non-governmental
organizations or the international development community, to draw attention away from
traditional security concerns of the state and toward the concerns of development in health,
society, and the environment (Paris 2001). Thomas & Towe (2002) and Paris (2001) suggest that
human security allows for thinking about security as transcending national territories and to
tackle issues of global importance. When studying transboundary river systems, this application
is quite appropriate.
The human security concept generally emerged in the post-Cold War era of security discourse
with Dr. Mahbub ul Haq’s contributions in the 1994 United Nations Development Program’s
Human Development Report (Ul Haq 1996). In his assessment of poverty and development ul
Haq concluded that it is too narrow to continue to focus on nation states rather than security
concerns of individual people (1996). This idea is echoed in academic papers in the early 2000s
that discuss a need to shift from state security to that of the individual. States proved increasingly
unable to protect individual citizens, and in some cases the states were failing to do this
altogether and the international community stepped up to fill that role (Axworthy 2001).
The UNDP document suggests two general expectations of individuals in relation to human
security for freedom from want and freedom from fear (Eldering 2010). The idea of fear is quite
easily connected with security; the idea of want is more closely connected with ideas of
development. In 2001, Kofi Annan is quoted as stating, “…lasting peace requires …
encompassing areas such as education and health, democracy and human rights, protection
against environmental degradation…” (Eldering 2010). The HDI Report identifies seven areas of
global human security threat to include food, economic, health, environmental, personal,
23
community, and political sectors (Gomez and Gasper 2012). Looking back in the literature, the
idea of human security appears much earlier, though not explicitly identified as such.
The concept, but perhaps not the term, precedes the 1994 emergence by a few decades in the
works of W.W. Rostow in the 1960s. In his important 1960 book, The Stages of Economic
Growth: A Non-communist Manifesto, Rostow puts forward the founding ideas that eventually
define Modernization Theory, a theory presented in more detail later in this chapter. Rostow’s
idea was centered on the belief that improved economic stability through industrialization, or
modernization, will, in turn, stabilize political systems and result in the promotion of democracy
and peace (Rostow 1960). Modernization Theory is explored further in this chapter.
The idea that economic investment encourages development and in turn this is important for
global security has been a prevailing concept since the conclusion of World War II, inspiring the
establishment of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Rostow and Millikan of the
MITCIS in 1957 state, “the amount of additional money needed [for economic aid] would be
small compared with what we shall have to spending emergency efforts either to salvage
situations which have been permitted to degenerate, such as South Korea and Indo-China, or to
put out additional brush-fires if they got started. The total costs of such a program would be
insignificant compared with the costs of waging limited wars,” (Baber 2001). This idea is
reflected in current US Department of Defense discourse regarding Phase Zero Operations, a
term that refers to the phase that comes before the four official military phases followed in time
of conflict (Wald 2006).
The general concept of security started shifting since the 1980s from national security focus to
encompass instead wider issues of environment, economics, and culture(Khong 2001). One
shifting paradigm within security studies from national security is referred to as critical security
studies. This area began in the early 1990s, most dominantly from the Copenhagen School
including authors such as Ole Waever, Jaap de Wilde, and Barry Buzan (Robinson 2008). These
24
scholars posit that security concerns in the post-Cold War era include subnational economics,
politics, environments, and military (Buzan and Wæver 2009, Buzan and Little 2001). This is
explored further in the securitization theory section of this chapter.
The international community responsibility toward protection of people, that people ought to
have the right to personal freedom, beyond the guarantee of a nation’s sovereignty, is officially
derived from the Nuremberg trials at the conclusion of World War II and reflected in related
documents such as UN’s Charter, Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and the Geneva
Convention (Axworthy 2001).
The previous definitions of human security establish that the global threat to human security has
surpassed that of simply examining the relationship a nation has to its people in the act of war,
human rights, or genocide. Our present condition of natural disasters attributed to global climate
change, of seemingly unregulated natural resource exploitation, and of economic development
movements toward globalization all of these actions threaten lives, livelihoods, biodiversity,
cultural traditions, local economies, politics, and certainly the environment. Some authors ask
whether appropriate action from and roles of the international community toward sovereignty
rights of a nation should be reassessed (Axworthy 2001).
Given the vague definition of human security, along with the definite leanings of the term and
related post-Cold War security studies toward inclusive issues of economics, environment, social
issues, as well as national politics, and also along with Post-World War II development goals, I
determine that the term is an appropriate frame for assessing myriad changes due to dam
development. Human security in this study examines the extent to which the systems of politics,
environment, economics, and socio-culture change at different scales because of dam
development. These sectors are selected out of the securitization literature as described below,
with the exception of military.
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Securitization theory
Post Cold-war security studies define two general concerns for security traditional and non-
traditional security studies. Traditional security studies consider impacts to economic and
political stability on a national scale, whereas non-traditional security studies focus on potential
threats that originate from such diverse sectors health and the environment from territory defense
and military intervention (Buzan, Wæver and De Wilde 1998, Paris 2001). The challenge of
widely held security studies grew into study of a greater security complexity through
securitization theory, with best known scholars connected to the Copenhagen School (Buzan,
Wæver and De Wilde 1998). Securitization theory addresses the concerns found in combining
the issues of traditional and non-traditional security covering issues related to politics,
environment, economics, culture, and military (ibid).
The theory addresses the areas of responsibility typically addressed by national governments and
local community as separate but related issues. The idea is that these scales offer two different
levels of stability. One level of stability is based on the national-level economics and political
power, the other level of stability is based on health, education, wellbeing, and the environment
(ibid).
2.3.3. ENVIRONMENTAL SECTOR
Water and Environmental Resources Security
Water resources are necessary for all living things and myriad processes important for society.
This includes food and energy production, industry, transportation, recreation, municipal use,
and the delineation of political boundaries. More than one billion people lack access to safe
drinking water (Frederick and Gleick 1999, Loftus 2009) and more than 2.4 billion lack access to
sanitation worldwide (WHO and Organization 2002). International interests, through the creation
of agreements, such as the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), seek to
reduce this number through international development and aid. Domestic policies in Ethiopia and
Laos also reflect this goal. The central place of water resources, and the challenges with human
26
and environment interactions, makes water security a vital component of human security. Water
resources security in reference to changing supplies are discussed in recent papers (Gleick and
Palaniappan 2010).
Access, availability, quality, and quantity of water directly and indirectly impact politics, the
environment, economics, and society and culture. The term “water security” is loosely-defined in
literature of security studies, geography, political science, political economy, development, and
water resources sciences. For the purposes of this study, “water security” is defined as access and
“availability of an acceptable quantity and quality of water for health, livelihoods, ecosystems
and production, coupled with an acceptable level of water-related risks to people, environments
and economies” (Grey and Sadoff 2007). Though this definition is focused on water resources
use, it speaks to the complexity of water systems posed by the temporal and spatial nature of
water.
Water resources are requisite for living systems, economic systems, political systems, and socio-
cultural systems. Securing, managing, and stabilizing water resources are important for planetary
health, human societies, and development efforts. Literature about water security and human
security describe challenges presented by the complexity of this relationship, but water security
and human security have multiple definitions and applications in theory and practice, as already
touched upon in this chapter. This prerequisite lends itself well to a study of system complexity
in the relationship between dam development and human security. The relationship between
changes to the physical environment and political and social instability is covered by numerous
scholars, with shifts in freshwater resource access, quality, and quantity often noted as being a
key change and influence on societal and political stability (Nelson, Adger and Brown 2007,
Büntgen et al. 2011, Barnett 2003, Nordås and Gleditsch 2007).
In the late twentieth century, water and related environmental resources became central to
predicting future conflict (Homer-Dixon 1991, Homer-Dixon 1994, Gleick 1993, Kaplan 1994,
27
Dalby 1996). Security concerns of this nature are not necessarily bound by nation-states, but
rather by natural systems. This demands regional or international approach, divorced from
traditional security studies (Dalby 1992). The idea of water wars was challenged by Aaron Wolf
in his collaborative work on basins at risk (2003). He and his team found that water may be used
as a diplomatic platform between international neighbors. Global climate change and pollution
pressures as well as increased population demand has pushed water resources past sustainable
use in many places (Vorosmarty 2000). Several studies have examined how already-stressed
systems that are vulnerable could be driven past a tipping point by shifts in climate (Barnett
(Barnett 2003, Dabelko 2008, Mabey 2007). Some suggest that resources security is another way
to describe resources vulnerability (Barnett 2001). Discussion of security and stability at
different scales and for different sectors is especially useful in the context of freshwater
resources and climate change (Buzan and Little 2001). The impact of freshwater stress is of
concern for all sectors of society, sometimes indirectly, with consequences that are largely
unpredictable (Costello et al. 2009).
Water interacts with broader national security concerns and can contribute to state instability and
social disruptions. Three levels of scale can be employed to describe and understand interactions
concerning freshwater resources: the individual, intranational, and international systems (Buzan
and Wæver 2009). For individuals, water security can be considered a factor of “life, health,
status, wealth, and freedom” (Stone 2009). For states, water security can have larger, more
complicated considerations, to include large-infrastructure such as dams, and a shifting hierarchy
of requirements in often overlapping political, military, environmental, economic, and societal
sectors (Buzan et al. 1998, Buzan and Wæver 2009). Water specific issues of seepage, pollution,
landslides, water-borne epidemics are relevant to water security (Smith 2013). Environmental
security discourse collectively describes risk to humans and the larger ecological system through
alterations to local environmental systems - such as a water system - that potentially result in
human casualty, economic loss, loss to biodiversity, migrations, famine, disease, political unrest
(Homer-Dixon 1994). Global attention was redirected after the conclusion of the Cold War
28
toward the importance of water resources as crucial for human health and wellbeing ((Liverman
1999).
The importance of managing and conservation in water resources is not a new concept.
Geographer George Perkins Marsh in 1864 stated that it is apparent that in many systems,
negative impacts on the ecosystem or environment will also have negative impacts on the
humans using that same environment. Also in the 1800s, Alexander Von Humbolt determined
that South American colonial exploitative practices for economic gain were causing extinction of
a traditional ways of life and environmental damage. From the time of Hippocrates to
contemporary water geographers, much thought has been given to how water has shaped and
continues to influence human societies. Water as central to political power and political security
was postulated in the early and mid-twentieth century (Whittlesey 1935, Wittfogel 1956);. The
idea of hydraulic civilizations a theory that suggests engineering water resources is important to
further political and economic power as the central force to develop civilizations (Wittfogel
1956) is still an acceptable perception in dam development today. Changes in water resources
can alter the relative wealth of countries and cause shifts in relative power. In many ways, water
is one of the most important components holding societies together. When the rate of change to a
water system exceeds its capacity to adapt, the myriad connections to overall security and
stability soon become evident (Veilleux & Zenter 2014).
For this study, the changes derived from large-scale water infrastructure and other human
engineered landscapes that change water resources are highlighted within water security context.
This is due to the competing use posed by large-scale development that render all other water
resources use altered beyond recognition.
Resilience Theory
Resilience theory can be employed to explain an individual or a system response to change (Van
Breda 2001). The theory examines how a system has the ability to absorb change and maintain a
29
constant state only to the tipping point, at which time it will reconfigure and continue in a new
state (Walker and Salt 2006). The theory is an application of systems thinking and is one of the
main ways to understand change in environmental literature (Berkes and Ross 2013). Resilience
theory has been successfully applied to the biological sciences for some time, though it has its
origins in psychology and speaks to individual’s ability to absorb change and trauma (Berkes and
Ross 2013, Van Breda 2001). I use the theory in this research to consider both the scaled
communities and the environmental system of the river.
Systems are in constant flux of changing states based on inputs from external and internal change
(Meadows 2008). Systems can be used to describe ecosystems, but also to describe human
systems and components of human systems as previously mentioned (Innes and Booher 2010).
I consider the systems in this study to be in a more or less steady state at the time of the data
collection and for dam development as a driver of change that could potentially change the state
of the system. For example, the two case studies I examined result in a simplified and
generalized resilience model for the river system in the following figure.
30
Figure 1: Resilience-based model of river system change due to dam development.
Resilience is described as “the ability of a system to absorb disturbance and still retain its basic
function and structure,” in the Walker and Salt (2006) book Resilience Thinking. This definition
does not exclude the importance of understanding the issues of concern through the lens of
complexity. This is done in order to better describe the total system and consider how leverage
points can be identified for intervention and learning by identify parts of that system that absorb
change and parts that are permanently altered by change (Meadows 2008). The vulnerabilities
and strengths of the separate components in a complex system are important to the overall
stability and resilience of the entire system. Better understanding of all these components of the
system is important to understand how to manage the system and to inform decision-makers in
situations such as dam development.
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2.3.4. ECONOMIC SECTOR
Modernization theory
Modernization theory states that, foreign direct investment, industrialization, and general
economic development lead to positive social and political change (Lipset 1959, Zakaria 2004,
Rostow 1960, Arat 1988, Berman 2001). This is a controversial theory, but I am including it in
my study because it is the backbone to most foreign policy strategies in the United States,
European Union, the international development community, and developing countries’ policy.
Born mainly of 19
th
century European ideas and American idealism following the Second World
War, the theory suggests how and why societies develop politically, socially, and economically
and it is the underpinning for a myriad of subsequent social science theories which explains the
reasons for differences between developed and less developed nations (Meyer et al. 2009). The
application of modernization theory to this study speaks to the reasons for development efforts in
Ethiopia and Laos through the platform of dam development.
Modernization and subsequent development are thought to lead to, “increased tolerance, rational
choices, trusting societies, and public participation” (Inglehart and Baker 2000). In all attempted
explanations, one thing is assumed: that anything modern is superior to anything traditional
(Haskell and Mamlyuk 2009). The account of how and where modernization theory was born
and thrived is debated in academic papers. Some theorists credit the birth of the theory with
Rostow and Lipset in 1950s American social science (Baber 2001, Meyer et al. 2009). While
other theorists reach back to Karl Marx and Max Weber (Inglehart and Baker 2000). Some
influence is attributed to colonial economics of Great Britain (Baber 2001). And yet others
consider the Victorian age or even the age of Enlightenment as the breeding ground for the
ideology (Baber 2001, Haskell and Mamlyuk 2009). The theory is echoed in Foucault’s thesis on
power-knowledge supports “structures of power and domination” as a means to achieve
development; and gives merit or legitimacy to authoritarian rule to impose development schemes
before democratic ideas can be brought into practice (Limongi Neto and Przeworski 1997, Baber
2001).
32
“Modernization” as a term is understood as the idea that technology and economies are
connected to societies through cultural drivers and that each works to positively develop the
other over time, leading to an end goal of overall development and moral betterment of mankind
(Baber 2001, Inglehart and Baker 2000). Marx stated that economically developed societies are
the future of less economically developed societies, societies measured by their material qualities
(Inglehart and Baker 2000). In the case of the 1950s MITCIS crowd, modern meant: “a dynamic
process occurring through the interaction of the economic, political, social, and psychological
forces in a society,” (Baber 2001). Nils Gilman, who worked with the MITCIS crowd and
particularly one social scientists named Edward Shils, credits Shils with stating “modern means
democratic and equalitarian, scientific, economically advanced and sovereign,” (Haskell and
Mamlyuk 2009). Modernization is linked with a historic process that allows societies to “catch-
up” with the rest of the world technologically and economically or is just another word for
industrialization (Meyer et al. 2009). Modernity is linked with freedom and prosperity (Haskell
and Mamlyuk 2009). Modernization theory allows for us to see into the future of an
industrialized society (Inglehart and Baker 2000). Modernization and subsequent development
are thought to lead to increased tolerance, rational choices, trusting societies, and public
participation (Inglehart and Baker 2000). In all attempted explanations, one thing is assumed:
that anything modern is superior to anything traditional (Haskell and Mamlyuk 2009).
The idea of less developed countries and developed countries and as the language suggests, one
is in a state of becoming, while the other has arrived. The first official wave of modernization
theory in the accepted literature is that of the Cold War and anti-communist driven ideology that
was adopted by the US Government (Haskell and Mamlyuk 2009). Looking at scholars such as
W.W. Rostow and Seymour Lipset, as well as the work of Massachusetts Institute of
Technology’s Center for International Studies (MITCIS), one sees a birth of the American
contribution to Modernization theory (Jiafeng 2009). This arm of MIT was constituted of leading
minds in social science tackling issues of an international scope, and making recommendations
to policy makers. Rostow served under both the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations to advise
33
foreign affairs, including the Vietnam War, and especially on the establishment of The 1961
Foreign Assistance Act that formed what is now the United States Agency for International
Development (USAID). According to USAID’s website, “the economic development theory of
W.W. Rostow, which posited "stages of economic development," most notably a "takeoff into
growth" stage, provided the premise for much of the development planning in the newly-formed
U.S. Agency for International Development,” (USAID 2011).
Rostow’s modernization suggests a move away from “traditional” (“backward, despotic,
intolerant, undeveloped”) society toward more “modern” (“free, prosperous, open, developed)
society (Haskell and Mamlyuk 2009). Rostow’s The Stages of Economic Growth: An Anti-
Communist Manifesto is one of the baseline texts for modernization theory. This book outlines
the linear movement a society makes from traditional to modern through a series of five phases
described by economic growth radiating out to cause cultural and political changes (1960). He
created a model called the “Stages of Growth” or Take-off Model, describing five stages as:
traditional society, preconditions for take-off, take-off, drive to maturity, age of high mass
consumption (Rostow 1962). This sort of sentiment creates backlash amongst the critics of the
theory for obvious reasons. Regardless, when the theory was first popular in 1950s United States,
even President Kennedy quoted Walt Whitman Rostow’s idea of economic take-off (Baber
2001).
In his 2006 paper, Charles Wald states that Phase Zero is a military approach that can prevent
conflicts from developing though “…promot[ing] stability and peace by building capacity in
partner nations…” The author goes on to argue that economic investment up front in a nation is
far less expensive than the cost of an all out operations in the tens of thousands (Wald 2006).
Similar sentiment is found in the work of Rostow and Millikan of the MITCIS in 1957, “the
amount of additional money needed [for economic aid] would be small compared with what we
shall have to spending emergency efforts either to salvage situations which have been permitted
to degenerate, such as South Korea and Indo-China, or to put out additional brush-fires if they
34
got started. The total costs of such a program would be insignificant compared with the costs of
waging limited wars, [Italics added for emphasis]” (Baber 2001).
In the 1960s backlash to the modernization theory gave more visibility to theories such as
dependency theory or world systems theory, which had less idealistic and optimistic approaches
to the state of development in the developing world and the theory fell out of favor (Huntington,
1968). Consideration of how development plays out in practice in relation to the theory of
development has come under criticism (Rondinelli 2013). The theory also suggests economic
development stabilizes the political climate to allow for democratic societies to flourish,
something in turn thought to lead to stronger global security (Limongi Neto and Przeworski
1997, Zakaria 2004, Lipset 1959). Some scholars suggest that there is no evidence that economic
development promotes democracy (Limongi Neto and Przeworski 1997, Knack 2004).
Regardless, the current mission of the United State Government’s Foreign Policy is to promote
democracy globally partially through investment in international development and capacity
building.
Zakaria states that it is important to see that constitutional liberalism is not necessarily linked
with democracy, citing Hong Kong as an example, though many people equate liberal
constitutions with democratic governments (2004). He also states that culture impacts
economics, as does Huntington in his famous work on Civilizations, but deemphasizes culture’s
role in development by citing similar cultures with very different economic outcomes
(Huntington 1996, Zakaria 2004). Francis Fukuyama stated in his book The End of History and
the Last Man liberal democracy was indeed the highest and last stage of political rule
(2006).This idea of democratic connection linked with economics is a popular one and following
the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the theory has gained new momentum in Washington, D.C. (Haskell
and Mamlyuk 2009). It connects ideas of democracy and free society with economic
development (ibid).
35
In a qualitative assessment of the World Values Surveys, authors Ronald Inglehart and Wayne E.
Baker of the University of Michigan found that while economic development does result in
changes to culture, traditional cultures persist (2000). Criticism of the theory include the
promotion of westernized culture as the ideal type of culture at the expense or exclusion of other
cultures, especially Eastern cultures, the model may not work in countries with high levels of
corruption, that bringing modernization to other states is a cover for ulterior motives, and that the
theory in practice has failed to deliver results and has even caused more poverty in the world by
trapping less developed countries in a world market where they cannot compete (Meyer et al.
2009, Zaman and Zaman 1994, Huntington 1968, Huntington 1971, Bab