Brooke Peterson ’10
Woodrow Wilson School
Intern to International Rivers' Mekong River Campaign
International Rivers has led the way in using research, education, and advocacy to address the many ways river development projects harm the environment: their successes include leading the creation of the World Commission on Dams, initiating the International Day of Action for Rivers, and protecting communities in countries as diverse as Brazil, Lesotho and Nepal. My work with International Rivers focused on investigating how water development projects — specifically the dams proposed to be built on the Mekong River — will have negative consequences for the environment and human health. Living in Bangkok, Thailand, I devoted most of my internship to piecing together how building the dams will block fish migrations and thus eliminate an estimated 62% of the Mekong river’s fish trade. Since the Mekong River is currently the most productive inland fishery in the world, this drastic reduction in fish would increase malnutrition and harm regional food security.
My work concerning the importance of an undammed Mekong River to regional food security, and thus human health, will be visible in two ways. First, the Mekong Program on Water Environment and Resilience (M-POWER) is funding a documentary to raise awareness about how the Mekong River is important to human nutrition throughout the Lower Mekong Basin; the literature review I compiled for the film crew will be important in determining the most valuable scenes to film and facts to present. Second, I wrote an eight-page briefing sheet concerning how the Mekong dams will affect the nutritional status of millions of people; this will be published by International Rivers in November and distributed to government officials, locally active NGOs, and concerned lay people. Hopefully the documentary and briefing sheet will draw attention and action to these important issues I spent my internship researching.
International Rivers, Bangkok, Thailand