An article by IWMI’s Dalaphone Silhanath was featured in the Vientiane Times on March 8th 2017.
The Mekong region is experiencing massive investment with respect to hydropower development and a persistent challenge is to ensure that hydropower-related resettled communities are provided with improved livelihood opportunities. Despite the implementation of multifaceted livelihood packages based on consultations with affected communities, adoption by households often remains a problem. Our research in Lao PDR showed that part of the issue may lie in these strategies being designed without taking into account for a multiplicity of factors that contribute to overall wellbeing of men and women, as well as of different ethnic groups. For example, hydropower companies tend to focus on the material aspects of wellbeing when designing livelihoods. But relational and subjective aspects of wellbeing often intertwine with material aspects, and understanding the subjective differences in attitudes, feelings and aspirations of men and women that impinge on decision and its costs and benefits is crucial. For example, women’s control over decisions on riverbank gardening decreased due to newly enforced land use patterns, with resultant material costs for both women and men. The control of women over weaving on the other hand increased with material benefits for both women and men, and relational and subjective benefits for women.