At the Salween River Youth Camp in late August, young people from diverse communities on both sides of the Salween River on the Myanmar-Thai border came to Tha Ta Fang village in Thailand to learn about dam projects and local ecosystems.
The participants at the camp learned about ecosystems along in the Salween River through exchanges with one another. They divided into groups to explore topics related to ecosystems in the Salween River. One group shared knowledge about fish. Another group focused on the culture and traditions of communities on both sides of the Salween, while a third documented herbs growing on the communities’ land. The groups shared their findings with each other, helping the youth to recognize the importance of these ecosystems to their communities.
As these young people see it, it’s important to protect the Salween River for their descendants and future generations.
Rivers are critical shared resources that belong not to one nation, but to all who are dependent on them. Our work often revolves around rivers and the people who rely on them for food, water, and transportation. From fighting Occidental Petroleum’s oil contamination in the Corrientes River basin in the Amazon since 2007, to standing by indigenous communities in Peru who still face major oil spills today, to challenging mega-dams on the Mekong river and its tributaries in Southeast Asia -- we know the importance of free-flowing and clean waters to indigenous communities and fishing communities around the world.
Dams on the Mekong River will impact fish migration and ecosystems. Around 70 percent of the Mekong River’s fish migrate long distances between upstream and downstream and to tributaries. This is essential for their life cycle. Building dams will block this fish migration and result in a significant decline in the number of fish and will endanger certain fish species.
I’ve learned that the power of community is very important and if you want to run a campaign, you have to win over yourselves first. A successful campaign doesn’t only mean targeting investors, but the vital thing is empowering the community to love their river.