Vientiane, Lao PDR, 6th Jul 2017
5 July 2017, Vientiane, Lao PDR – Representatives of Cambodia and Viet Nam working on transboundary water issues in the Mekong Delta and the Sesan-Srepok river basins brainstormed in the last two days on potential coordination mechanisms to improve cross-border water cooperation between the two countries.
Twelve members from the Mekong Delta and Sesan-Srepok projects participated in a workshop held at the Mekong River Commission Secretariat in Vientiane from 3 to 4 July, where the two countries tried to find better ways to manage the shared water resources along the borders. Among others, they discussed existing coordination mechanisms within and across borders in flood management, navigation control and water flow monitoring. These areas are cross-border priority issues in the project sites the two countries have agreed to improve water cooperation on.
“Both teams have had a good brainstorming to set up various mechanisms to address each one of the priority issues,” said Piriya Uraiwong, MRC’s water resources management specialist who coordinates the MRC’s bilateral projects. “I hope they would continue discussions and come up with various mechanisms to improve transboundary cooperation.”
The two projects are part of the Mekong Integrated Water Resources Management Project, which promotes the coordinated planning and management of water resources to support transboundary dialogue and water cooperation among the MRC’s four member countries with the application of MRC’s procedural rules and tools on water use negotiations, information sharing, and water flow monitoring. Under the M-IWRMP, the four Mekong countries set up five bilateral projects to improve water collaboration at provincial levels between the countries.
While the Mekong Delta faces challenges from upstream development and climate change, the Sesan-Srepok river basins see impacts of the development of hydropower dams and large-scale irrigation facilities.
Through the Mekong Delta and the Sesan-Srepok projects, Cambodia and Viet Nam have identified six priority issues each to work on in their respective project areas, including a lack of effective transboundary flood forecasting and warning systems, needs for new measures to mitigate socio-economic impacts from climate change and infrastructural development, and weak human and institutional capacities for water management at provincial levels to collaborate across borders. The two countries are now moving to work on lasting solutions to address those issues with the establishment of coordination mechanisms and action plans.
During the workshop, the two project teams reviewed existing mechanisms at management, technical and operational levels on specific areas, such as flood control systems and data sharing of hydropower operations, within their own countries. Both teams further discussed how they could possibly set up joint mechanisms to address each priority issue. The two sides further agreed that they would continue the exercise to develop joint mechanisms by the end of September. Based on the agreed mechanisms, the two bilateral projects will design a joint action plan to improve bilateral water collaboration on specific areas.
“These projects are very important to promote transboundary cooperation within the Mekong Basin, as they are more closely looking at specific water issues faced by the member countries at bilateral levels,” said Secretary-General of the Cambodia National Mekong Committee Te Navuth, who headed the Cambodian delegation to the workshop. “We moved ahead a lot, having discussed potential joint mechanisms to improve the dialogue between Cambodia and Viet Nam. In coming weeks, we will design joint coordination mechanisms, hold national consultations on them, and hope to come back to develop a joint action plan.”