Agence Française de Développement funding helps MRC fight against floods

Vientiane, Lao PDR, 13th Jan 2006

The Agence Française de Développement today signed an agreement with the Mekong River Commission for an 800,000 Euro (around US$966,000) grant to finance an institutional support project as a first contribution to develop the Mekong-HYCOS – a regional hydrological cycle observing system.

The MRC’s Chief Executive Officer Dr Olivier Cogels signed the agreement with Mr Etienne Woitellier, Director of the Agence Française de Développement (the French Development Agency) in Vientiane, in the presence of H. E. Maurice Portiche, Ambassador of France to Lao PDR.

The main objective of the Mekong-HYCOS, which has been developed in partnership with the World Meteorological Organisation, is to establish an efficient, reliable and accurate real-time hydrometeorological data collection and transmission system at basin level, while also strengthening relevant national and regional capacities. This information will be shared between the MRC’s four member countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam.

The development goal of the project is to minimise the loss of lives and property by reducing flood vulnerability in the Mekong River Basin, through strengthening integrated water resources management in the context of transboundary river basin management.

The Mekong-HYCOS project will establish a basin wide hydrometeorological information system, which spatially covers mainstream and main tributaries of the Mekong river system. It is expected that under the Mekong-HYCOS project, more than 20 hydro-meteorological stations will be upgraded. The Mekong-HYCOS system will be integrated into the existing MRC monitoring system, while improving the national hydrological networks and river monitoring/forecasting capacities.

The project has three components.

  1. Financial support of 150,000 euros for programme coordination, as a complement to the recent secondment by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs of two French technical advisers for two years
  2. A further 150,000 euros to be allocated to the MRC Water Management Trust Fund to allow for short-term consultancies to help satisfy member countries’ requests on strategic policy development, transboundary mediation facilities and responsive programme development.
  3. The first contribution of 500,000 euros to develop the Mekong-HYCOS regional hydrological system. A complementary financing of 2.5 million Euro from the Agence Française de Développement and the French Global Environment Facility is expected some time in 2006 to finalise the Mekong-HYCOS financing plan.

H.E Mr Portiche said France had worked with the MRC in the 1990 and he was very glad the country was renewing its support to the regional cooperation between the four member states of the Lower Mekong Basin at the very important time when the partners had strengthened their partnership through a strategic plan for the 2006-2010 period.

“I am sure that Mekong-HYCOS system will become an important technical tool which will assist MRC to fulfil its core functions as a river basin organisation,” he said.

Dr Cogels expressed the MRC’s gratitude to the French government for its generous support of the commission’s work in the region, particularly as this project would be benefit to the poorest people who were the most affected by floods.

“The information gained from the real time measurements of the Mekong HYCOS system will be integrated into our Information Management Programme and our Flood Management and Mitigation Programme to aid us in real time flood forecasting and monitoring,” he said. “This region suffers shocking human and economic losses from flooding each year and one of the goals of the MRC’s basin-wide Mekong Programme is to develop better ways of minimising and mitigating these losses in order to help the people of the basin.”


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