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Infrastructure & environment

Progress, development, growth – the world needs it. And people’s lives can be transformed by it.

But not always for the better.

A key requirement for this growth is infrastructure development – the building of roads, dams, irrigation schemes and power stations to name just a few.

Our concern is that the impacts of large-scale infrastructure development are not always beneficial.

It affects people and how they make a living

Often it’s the most vulnerable – ethnic minorities and women – who suffer most in the name of progress. Without warning they can be forced from their homes to make way for cranes and construction crews.

Mostly they are not compensated for their loss and rarely do they share in any profits. And many are subsistence farmers and fisherfolk whose survival is dependent on the land – whose subsequent loss of home and access to natural resources forces them deeper into poverty.

It affects the environment and natural resources

Large-scale infrastructure development is often extractive by nature. Mining is one example but related practices like logging, damming, and deforestation to make way for large-scale commercial agricultural sites and plantations, also cause major environmental damage. Long-term environmental impacts are often not considered in infrastructure development projects.

Oxfam is there

We are currently working in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam to strengthen local civil society and communities to participate in decisions and management around water governance to ensure fair and sustainable usage. Six countries depend on the Mekong River region to provide water for agriculture and fishing, energy and supporting bio-diverse ecosystems – their fates are all connected. Oxfam has a long history of supporting rural farming and fishing communities throughout the Mekong region. The area is rich in natural resources but there are growing concerns that climate change and competing interests in water management are leading to instability and food insecurity, worsening the divide between rich and poor, and making life much harder for rural communities by putting pressure on the natural systems that underpin their livelihoods and well-being.

We’re working to safeguard the rights and interests of farmers, and fishing communities. One of our focus areas is the Mekong region, where millions of fishers and farmers – who depend directly on natural resources for survival – are threatened by land grabs and forced resettlement.

Oxfam Australia is a member of the Save the Mekong campaign which is aimed at protecting the lives of those affected by proposed infrastructure development along the Mekong River.


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