France provides 2.5 million Euros to support MRC Mekong hydrological cycle observing system

Vientiane, Lao PDR, 10th May 2006

The Agence Française de Développement (AFD) today signed an agreement with the Mekong River Commission (MRC) for a 2.5 million Euro (around US$3.17 million) grant to support the development of the Mekong-HYCOS – a regional hydrological cycle observing system. The 2.5 million Euro grant represents 1.5 million Euro from the AFD and one million Euro from the French Global Environment Fund (FFEM).

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 the Lao PDR.

This is the second agreement the MRC has signed this year with AFD and complements the first agreement (for 800,000 Euros) signed in January 2006, bringing the amount of French support to 3.3 million Euros

The Mekong HYCOS project aims at establishing a reliable and well functioning regional hydrological observation system covering the mainstream and main tributaries of the Mekong River shared by the four member states of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. The project is part of the Information and Knowledge Management Programme of the MRC, aiming at providing up-to-date and objective data, information and decision support tools to basin's stakeholders. It will be developed in partnership with the World Meteorological Organisation.

H.E. Mr Alistair Maclean, Ambassador of Australia to the Lao PDR, also attended the ceremony as the Australian Government’s development arm, AusAID, has been deeply involved with the MRC’s river monitoring work through its support of the Appropriate Hydrological Network Improvement (AHNIP) project, which has put in place a regional hydrological system. The AHNIP system is now working well providing near real time data for more than 10 stations in the basin. HYCOS will further strengthen this system. The MRC team will work to ensure the integration and compatibility of the two systems.

H.E Mr Portiche said the Mekong-HYCOS would become an important tool which would help the MRC to carry out its primary role of managing the waters of the Mekong River Basin.

Dr Cogels expressed the MRC’s gratitude to the French government for its continued support of its work and said the Mekong-HYCOS project would enable the MRC to be of more assistance to the basin’s flood prone communities by improving early warning systems and reducing flood vulnerability, so saving lives and reducing the economic damage caused by floods.

-ends-

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