Vientiane, Lao PDR, 18 Jun 2018
Sakon Nakhon, Thailand, 11 June 2018 – Government officials and community representatives from Laos’ Xe Bang Hieng and Thailand’s Nam Kam river basins cerebrated today the conclusion of a five-year bilateral wetland management project, which has improved community-based management practices in targeted wetlands.
Through the project, local working groups of both countries visited each other to learn wetland management challenges and solutions, get training on GIS mapping to demarcate land use, and prepared community-based wetland management plans for the protection of ecosystems and the development of resources-based livelihoods. They said the project that has brought tangible results could be a model for other sub basins and water user groups to follow, and bowed they’d continue to implement the plans further.
“We’ve developed local people’s capacity, we’ve got a map on the Markmee reservoir, we’ve got rules and regulations on wetland use, and we’ve got a new strategy on how to manage the wetlands, which is very useful for both city and rural development,” said Keoudone Chounlamountry, deputy head of the natural resources and environment office in Savannakhet’s Champhone district in her closing speech at a ceremony held in Sakon Nakhon. She was instrumental to coordinate project activities in three pilot villages in Markmee reservoir in the Xe Bang Hieng basin. “We’ll continue the next steps to implement the strategic plan together.”
Her counterpart, Nipon Mulmaungsan of Thailand who coordinated 17 local water resources management groups in the Nam Kam basin, also said the project was a success. “This project was an innovation for us, as many stakeholders in our basin collaborated to solve common water issues, and developed database on wetlands use based on the same methodology and techniques… We are very proud of this project and believe that it can be spread to many other areas.”
The project was launched in December 2013, with an aim to exchange knowledge on wetland management between the two river basins across the border, which share similarities in management challenges despite different development stages. The joint project team consisting of water specialists and local representatives from both basins made official study visits to their counterparts, and conducted a survey on watershed issues and solutions. Based on this learning, they co-organised a GIS mapping training for locals to measure and demarcate their wetlands use, and designed community-based management plans with GIS maps for a selected site, respectively. The joint team completed a final paper documenting these activities and lessons learnt in March this year.
During the closing ceremony, the project’s overview, outcomes and lessons were shared with Sakon Nakhon’s water user groups.
“We now have a better understanding of how to use the water we have, how to store it and distribute it to people in needs in our area,” said Chaimongkhon Chairop, CEO of the Sakon Nakhon Provincial Administration. “Transboundary cooperation between Lao PDR and Thailand has brought positive results. We hope we can cooperate further in the future.”
The wetland project is part of the MRC’s Mekong Integrated Water Resources Management Project, which promotes coordinated planning and management of water resources through dialogue and the application of technical tools. It is among five bilateral projects under M-IWRMP, which are implemented by the four Mekong countries, technically supported by the MRC Secretariat and funded by the World Bank.
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