Belo Monte and its impacts on downstream fishers and their livelihoods

Authors: Laura Castro-Diaz*, Michigan State University, Maria Claudia Lopez, Michigan State University, Emilio Moran, Michigan State University
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, South America, Qualitative Research
Keywords: Hydroelectric dams; Socio-ecological impacts; Downstream communities; Gender; Amazon fishers
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 4:00 PM / 5:40 PM
Room: Borgne Room, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In order to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, countries have begun to promote a transition toward renewable energy sources such as hydropower. The Belo Monte Hydroelectric Dam, located in the Xingu River of the Brazilian Amazon, is the third largest dam in the world, it will generate 11 GW of electricity and its construction has caused many social, economic and environmental impacts. In this research, we used a qualitative case study approach to explore perceptions among fishers in a community downstream from the dam of the impact of Belo Monte on their livelihoods and their fisheries. We conducted in-depth interviews, participant observation, fishing trips and resource mapping with fishers. Data analysis followed an interactive and continuous process. We found that fishers have been severely impacted by the dam, and that fishermen and fisherwomen are differentially affected. Although downstream communities were not displaced, they were neither consulted nor compensated and they have been severely affected by the construction of dams. More attention needs to be given to downstream communities and the impacts they experience.

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