Chris Blattman

As if dams didn’t have a bad enough reputation already…

Nearly nine months after a devastating earthquake in Sichuan Province, China, left 80,000 people dead or missing, a growing number of American and Chinese scientists are suggesting that the calamity was triggered by a four-year-old reservoir built close to the earthquake’s geological fault line.

A Columbia University scientist who studied the quake has said that it may have been triggered by the weight of 320 million tons of water in the Zipingpu Reservoir less than a mile from a well-known major fault.

Read the full article in the IHT.

This shortly after Rohini Pande and Esther Duflo highlight the unequal gains and losses from dam development in India:

In districts located downstream from a dam, agricultural production increases, and vulnerability to rainfall shocks declines. In contrast, agricultural production shows an insignificant increase in the district where the dam is located but its volatility increases. Rural poverty declines in downstream districts but increases in the district where the dam is built, suggesting that neither markets nor state institutions have alleviated the adverse distributional impacts of dam construction.

One Response

  1. Duflo and Pande did not argue that dams are bad. If downstream districts are reducing poverty at the cost of the district where the dam was built, it does not necessarily imply that dams suffer from bad reputation.

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