Compensation of people affected by dam building can be unfair, leading to protests and delays. Several international guidelines exist for compensation procedures that aim at equitable and reasonable compensation. Different criteria and procedures have been proposed for valuation of lost assets and income. We investigated five dam-building projects in Thailand, and evaluated the compensation process and outcomes with a conceptual framework focused on recognition of values, representation of affected people, actual compensation and acceptance of the project and compensation by the affected people. We studied the representation and recognition of languages of valuation in the compensation negotiation processes, and outcomes of the compensation in terms of cash-for-land payments and acceptance of the projects by the affected people. We propose and applied a ‘Comparative Index’ to compare paid cash compensations in the five projects with average family income in the respective regions. The results show deficient representation, insufficient attention to multiple languages of valuation, low compensations for lost land and trees and low degrees of acceptance by the affected people.