Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, 17th May 2007
People are still dying unnecessarily in floods every year due to inefficient early warning and flood forecasting systems, Mekong River Commission Secretariat CEO Dr Olivier Cogels told delegates at the Fifth Annual Mekong Flood Forum being held in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam today.
In his welcome remarks, Dr Cogels emphasised the urgent need to improve the quality and timely exchange of flood information most importantly to save human life, but also to protect property, agricultural land and livestock. He pointed out that changes in land use bring with them the potential to make more of the basin vulnerable to flood damage.
"Our member countries have established or are establishing a range of actions to enable them to cope with these changes but they need the tools, data and information to help them make the right decisions."
The theme of this year's forum is "Improving Inputs Toward Medium Term Flood Forecasting and Warning in the Mekong Basin."
The 5th Annual Mekong Flood Forum participants will hear of the progress being made to improving flood forecasting in the basin and also the key areas which need attention. It will provide an opportunity for participants to discuss emerging needs within the basin and to review the progress each country has made towards a holistic and balanced flood management plan.
It will draw together nearly 150 delegates including those from the Mekong River Commission (MRC) member countries of Cambodia, Lao DPR, Thailand and Viet Nam and their line agencies, regional and international scientists and experts, Dialogue Partners China and Myanmar, and representatives of international and national civil society organisations and local communities.
The Forum was officially opened by Mr Nguyen Hong Toan, Secretary General Viet Nam National Mekong Committee, MRC Joint Committee Member for Viet Nam who told the forum delegates it was up to the MRC member countries to increase cooperation in their data exchange to ensure the MRC's Flood Management and Mitigation Programme could meet the forecasting needs of the basin's people.
Data information requirements necessary for reliable short to medium term forecasting included those concerning meteorology and weather forecasting, water level forecasting, effective early warning and flood preparedness measures and emergency management, relief and reconstruction.
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