Health Impact Assessment (HIA)

Health and social impacts of large dams

Resource/Evaluation type:

Journal articles

Subject area:



Large dams are often criticized because of their negative environmental and social impacts: changes in water and food security, increases in communicable diseases, and the social disruption caused by construction and involuntary resettlement.
Published in 1999, the first of these articles shows that communities living close to dams often do not benefit from water transfer and electricity generation revenues. A comprehensive health component is therefore required in environmental and social impact assessments for large dam projects.
The second paper, published in 2009, draws on data from the Lesotho Highlands Water Project in Southern Africa and the Manwan Dam on the upper Mekong in China. Using social impact assessment (SIA), the authors investigate the effects of large dam projects on human communities through time and across geographical scales. After an overview of lessons learned and suggestions for best practice, the article concludes that SIA can help promote development strategies that address the concerns of local populations, thus enhancing the long-term sustainability of dam projects.


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