1st Edition

The Future of Large Dams Dealing with Social, Environmental, Institutional and Political Costs

By Thayer Scudder Copyright 2005

    Viewed by some as symbols of progress and by others as inherently flawed, large dams remain one of the most contentious development issues on Earth. Building on the work of the now defunct World Commission on Dams, Thayer Scudder wades into the debate with unprecedented authority. Employing the Commission's Seven Strategic priorities, Scudder charts the 'middle way' forward by examining the impacts of large dams on ecosystems, societies and political economies. He also analyses the structure of the decision-making process for water resource development and tackles the highly contentious issue of dam-induced resettlement, illuminated by a statistical analysis of 50 cases.

    The Large Dams Dispute and the Future of Large Dams * Theories of the Resettlement Process * A Comparative Survey of Dam-induced Resettlement in 50 Cases, with the Statistical Assistance of John Gay * How River Basin Communities Can Benefit From Resettlement * Sri Lanka's Mahaweli Development Project * Further Case Studies * Addressing Downstream and Upper Catchments: Environmental and Social Impacts * Institutional Arrangements * The Future of Large Dams and the Way Forward *


    Thayer Scudder is Professor Emeritus at the California Institute of Technology and former Commissioner of the World Commission on Dams.

    'This pragmatic guide could prevent multimillion dollar errors in the future, and could at last help reverse the impoverishment of dam-affected people.' Robert Goodland, Former Chief Environmental Adviser, World Bank Group 'Thayer Scudder adds a human dimension that is surprisingly often ignored or inadequately understood in the planning and building of large dams.' Nature 'A practical, balanced and cautionary text, replete with stories from 50 years of wandering the globe and studying its peoples and their ways, told by an instinctive storyteller.' David McDowell, former Director General of IUCN and New Zealand Ambassador to the United Nations 'Thayer Scudder has stepped out of his role as one of the World Commission on Dams' chorus to provide a solo performance that none could control, or predict.' Kader Asmal, South African MP and Chair, World Commission on Dams, 1997-2000 'A thorough analysis of the social impacts of large dams in developing countries.' Robert M Hordon, Journal of American Water Resources Association 'Scudder offers the reader the human face of large dams, past present and future: the resettlement of populations, benefits of hydroelectric power, water resource development, flood control and disruption of ecosystems. Will there be large dams in our global future? Yes, he concludes, but the historic paradigm of large dam costs and benefits is now shown to be fatally flawed. We require a new paradigm. This book sets forth the guiding principles.' James J. Morgan, Professor of Environmental Engineering Science, Caltech and Stockholm Water Laureate, 1999 'Scudder succeeds to create a guide for the future persons and institutions involved in any stage of the dam build, but also a work which helps anyone to understand a dam induced changes in the society.' Iuliana Sava, Iasi Polytechnic Magazine