Ministers discuss flood, drought and basin planning

Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam , 12th Dec 2006

Senior Government Ministers representing the four Mekong River Commission (MRC) member countries today met in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam for the 13th Meeting of the MRC Council.

In addition to the flood issues that are being addressed by the MRC’s Flood Management and Mitigation Programme, MRC Council members from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam said that it was time the MRC took a leading role in drought management at a regional scale, as this would involve issues of transboundary water management. Among other matters, they approved the launch of a new Drought Management Programme to be implemented by the MRC in 2007.

The meeting also approved the MRC’s 2007 Operating Expenses Budget and the 2007 Work Programme; provided guidance on the implementation of Phase 2 of the Basin Development Plan (BDP2) and endorsed, in principle, an extension to the Water Utilisation Programme (WUP).

BDP2 will see the preparation of a rolling Integrated Water Resources Management-based Basin Development Plan, the identification and short listing of a portfolio of programmes and projects under the BDP Planning Cycle, better assessment tools, an improved knowledge base and enhanced capacity for planning and mediation.

The WUP extension is primarily intended to build national capacity in the implementation of the Decision Support Framework modelling software and the technical guidelines for the Procedures for Maintenance of Flows on the Mainstream, approved earlier this year, and the Procedures for Water Quality, which are pending approval, as well as continuing discussions on these guidelines and maintaining the DSF applications.

Apart from the Drought Management Programme the MRC is also undertaking formulation of a Hydropower Programme and an Information Knowledge Management Programme, which is an expansion of the work performed by its Technical Support Division in mapping and GIS and will now incorporate all data management activities including the MRC Portal.

In his opening speech H.E. Dr. Cao Duc Phat, MRC Council Chairman for 2006-2007, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and Chairman of Viet Nam National Mekong Committee, said 2007 would be an exciting year for the Mekong River Commission. The new Strategic Plan 2006-2010 would be in full swing and there would be increased integration of programme work within the MRC Secretariat.

“The MRC has established a firm direction to work toward the sustainable development of the Mekong River and its associated resources and this is underlined in the Strategic Plan. By adopting an integrated water resources management approach to our work we are anticipating a more efficient and productive working environment which will bring about some tangible results in our respective countries,” he said.

“I am very pleased to say that the donor community is continuing to show strong support for our work. I should like to congratulate the Secretariat and the CEO, Dr Cogels, on the achievement of significant fundraising efforts during the past year which have further strengthened our budgets.”

He added that the MRC had also consolidated its relationship with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank and was working closely with them in their regional initiatives.

The meeting was attended by HE Mr Lim Kean Hor, Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology of Cambodia, Chairman of Cambodia National Mekong Committee, Member of the MRC Council for Cambodia; Mr Khamlouat Sidlakone, Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office of the Lao PDR, Chairman of Lao National Mekong Committee, Member of the MRC Council for the Lao PDR; Dr Siripong Hungspreug, Director General of the Department of Water Resources, Secretary General of the Thai National Mekong Committee and Alternate Member of the MRC Joint Committee for Thailand; and Mr Nguyen Hong Toan, Secretary of Viet Nam National Mekong Committee, Member of the MRC Joint Committee for Viet Nam.

-ends-

For more information

Mr Damian Kean, Interim Communication Advisor
Tel: +856 56120695 or +856 21 263 263 Ext. 4703
Email: damian@mrcmekong.org

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