While consultation on this project in Lao PDR is the responsibility of the government, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank have involved external experts to ensure transparency, balance, and meaningfulness in a round of consultations conducted from May through August 2004. The Lao government and NTPC have since launched a new round of consultations to respond to villagers’ concerns and proposals elicited through the earlier consultations, and to explain the downstream mitigation and compensation framework in detail to affected villages.
Each safeguard document was summarized, translated, and rendered by an independent facilitator into a format and language that project-affected people could understand. District resource persons and village facilitators reflecting the ethnic and gender balance of each village were trained to present the content of the documents accurately and in a neutral fashion; conduct inclusive and participatory discussions involving all households in each village; lead follow-up activities; and prepare village reports for the public domain. Summaries of the village reports will be posted on the NT2 website and on the Lao National Committee for Energy website.
At the end of consultations in each geographical area, a wrap-up session was held to review villagers’ concerns and proposals, and to reach agreement on major design changes. Such changes have included the incorporation vocational training and provisions for special relocation assistance for widows and the elderly into the Resettlement Action Plan.
An independent monitor observed and evaluated the quality of the consultations, and provided advice on improving the feedback process. In his final report (739kb pdf) on the process, the independent monitor noted the need to maintain the momentum of the consultations process and to build upon the participatory methods and mechanisms of the consultations to ensure continuous project monitoring and feedback by local communities.
In addition to the local consultations, a series of international stakeholder workshops were organized in Bangkok, Tokyo, Paris, Washington, and Vientiane in late August and September 2004. These workshops were held to ensure that the project’s objectives, potential benefits, and impacts were shared, discussed, and well-understood not only within Lao PDR, but also more broadly among international civil society.
They also provided a forum for informed debate about the project, providing feedback to the government of Lao PDR and NTPC before they finalized the safeguard documents, and to the international financial institutions in considering support for the project. To ensure that the process was transparent, balanced, and meaningful, an independent moderator facilitated each of the workshops and prepared a workshop report.