31st Aug 2016
Buon Ma Thuot, Viet Nam, 26 August 2016 – Institutionalising cross-border mechanisms to assess impact of water resources development, monitor water flow and quality, and provide early warning of flooding are the priorities for the management of the Sesan-Srepok river sub-basins that located in Cambodia’s northeast provinces and Viet Nam’s central highlands, according to the MRC-supported Sesan-Srepok transboundary water resources management project.
Officials of the National Mekong Committees, related ministries and provincial authorities from the two countries, who form the transboundary project, joined a week-long field trip to the sub-basins, in order to verify a number of water resources concerns and management issues of the two rivers and to confirm needs for better mechanisms to address those issues. The project is one of the five bilateral projects of the World Bank-funded Mekong Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) Programme which facilitates transboundary dialogue to promote IWRM-based water management.
During the field trip, the project team visited a number of hydropower stations, a water supply facility and a hydrometeorological station, among other facilities, to understand how the development of water resources would affect their downstream counterparts and how the upstream country could take measures to mitigate the impact. The teams also visited a village by the Sesan River near the O’Yadav -Le Thanh border, which once suffered from floods caused by the upstream dam but has experienced the effect of mitigation measures taken by the upstream to improve the control of water flow.
“It was a very good opportunity for us to deepen our understanding of water related issues in the sub-basins,” said Watt Botkosal, Cambodia’s IWRMP national coordinator, at a workshop concluding the field trip. “We need to develop a mechanism to share data and information on the hydropower operations, water flow and quality.”
The Sesan-Srepok sub-basins have a number of hydropower stations that were built in the last decade for economic development but have affected local ecosystems and the livelihoods in the region. Through the project, the two countries have identified a number of key issues, such as a lack of monitoring and assessment of water flow, a lack of an effective cross-border flood forecasting and warning system and a need for data sharing among others. The project team is expected to develop a coordination mechanism for data sharing and design an action plan to address some of those issues so that both countries could share the benefits of using the common water resources.
An Pich Hatda, MRC’s planning director, emphasised at the workshop the importance of applying the MRC knowledge such as the five procedural rules, guidelines, tools and data for joint resource management. “The IWRM transboundary projects are very crucial for the member states to institutionalise meaningful cooperation at the sub-basin level based on MRC knowledge… Both Cambodia and Viet Nam could set a good example of cooperation,” he said.
During the workshop, the officials from the two countries also reviewed joint transboundary issues in the Mekong Delta as part of the WB-funded Mekong Delta transboundary water resources management project. Similar to the Sesan-Srepok team, the Delta team is also expected to design a cooperation mechanism and develop an action plan to address the joint issues in coming months.
Nguyen Hong Phuong, Deputy Director General of the Viet Nam NMC who chaired the workshop, thanked the participants for a productive meeting to verify joint transboundary issues through active and open discussions.
The two projects are expected to be completed by early 2018.