While annual floods have the potential to wreak havoc on unprepared communities, spoil crops and endanger food security, they also play a vital role in agriculture. Annual flood pulses also contribute to the world-renowned productivity of the Mekong freshwater fisheries.
The MRC’s Flood Management and Mitigation Programme (FMMP) was designed to minimise negative flood-related impacts while preserving the benefits. The Phnom Penh-based Regional Flood Management and Mitigation Centre has helped state agencies in the four riparian countries manage flooding through data and tools that make timely flood-forecasting and impact-mitigation possible.
During the June-November flood season, the Regional Flood Management and Mitigation Centre issues daily flood forecasts and warnings. Data from 138 hydro-meteorological stations is used to predict water levels at 23 forecast points on the Mekong River system. The MRC shares these daily bulletins by fax, e-mail, and on the MRC home page and dedicated Flood Forecasting Website to National Mekong Committees, Non-Governmental Organisations, the media, and, most importantly, the public.
The daily warnings provide government agencies and communities in Cambodia and Lao PDR with advanced notice of rising water levels. Other preparedness tools include flood markers and community billboards that provide clear information on the current and predicted water levels. Through online postings, radio communication, dissemination of guidebooks as well as workshops, the MRC strives to reach a wide audience throughout the entire Mekong Basin.
In the Mekong’s tributaries, flash flooding from intense rainfall is the largest risk for people and infrastructure. The MRC is developing a flash flood guidance system for tributary rivers. This tool will be used to indicate the likelihood of flooding of small streams overwide areas.
The regional Flood Forum serves to coordinate flood-management activities with planners, scientists, international organisations, and civil society organisations. The Forum acts as a platform to share experiences, information and lessons learned. Forum proceedings are available in MRC Conference Proceedings and Workshops publications.
Since 2005, the Annual Flood Report has provided an overview of flooding in the Lower Mekong Basin. These Reports, which focus on a different theme each year, can be found on the MRC Basin Reports page.
Effective transboundary flood management hinges on regional cooperation. Throughout its duration, the FMMP fostered greater cooperation and capacity by facilitating information-sharing on transboundary flood issues. It also organised training workshops, and study visits to support information sharing and first-hand learning experiences. These exchanges allow decision-makers to share the lessons they have learnt and support the development of region-specific solutions.