MRC Transboundary Dialogue, Issue 7

20th Jan 2017

IWRMP's quarterly eNewsletter tells stories on the transboundary water resources management initiatives.

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Issue 7: October- December  2016

Project Teams in Four Countries Learn to Pitch News Stories

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Team members from the five transboundary projects participate in a communication training in October at MRCS, Vientiane, Lao PDR. @MRC

 

In one minute, how would you review your project to people who don’t know anything about your project? How would you convince them to support your project?

A communications workshop, held in early October in Vientiane, offered an opportunity for project teams from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam to master an effective way to communicate about their projects to outsiders. The four lower Mekong countries have been working together on a bilateral basis on fisheries, wetland, delta, lake and river basin management for the last three years.

The three-day communications workshop provided 30 government’ officials and members of five bilateral projects under the MRC’s Mekong Integrated Water Resources Management Project (IWRMP), with tools to produce media articles or reports. Learning these practical skills will help them to communicate their work and promote importance of transboundary IWRM’s more effectively.

“Promoting transboundary dialogue and raising awareness of IWRM principles are important parts of the transboundary projects. Communicating your work to your stakeholders and the public plays a crucial role to achieve those goals,” said Mekong River Commission’s (MRC) Chief Executive Officer Pham Tuan Phan, in his opening remarks at the workshop.

The workshop began with a challenging exercise of “elevator pitch”, where participants presented a one-minute speech on their project -  a good training method to enhance communication efficiency.

During the workshop, the five bilateral teams received lectures on story-telling methods, interviewing skills, writing techniques, and photo-taking and filming skills. They also worked in a team to draft a multi-media story on their respective projects.

For some participants, the training was a refresher to refine their skills to communicate better. For others, it was packed with new concepts and skills to learn and absorb.

“The training provided us with a set of useful guides to help us get messages across more effectively, especially through short and concise stories,” said Phai Sok Heng, Cambodian National Consultant for the Sesan-Srepok and the Mekong Delta projects. “We will apply these skills into our day-to-day work so that our stakeholders are better informed.”

The training was organised by the MRC’s IWRMP Communication Outreach Team. More communication training for the member countries and project teams is planned for this year.

Lao-Thai Wetlands Team Finalises Joint Management Report, Discusses Next Plan

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Technical working groups from the Xe Bang Hieng and Nam Kam Wetland Management Project meet in November in Thailand to finalise the joint wetland management report. @Wetland project team

 

The Lao and Thai team of the Xe Bang Hieng and Nam Kam Wetland Management Project met on 4 November, in Sokhon Nakhon Province of Thailand, to finalise a joint report capturing current water management issues at Nong Han and Xe Champhone wetlands and best cooperation approaches for addressing those challenges. 

The Xe Champhone, in Southern Lao PDR, and Nong Han, in Eastern Thailand, are recognised as internationally important wetlands which provide rich ecosystems in aquatic flora and fauna and support local livelihoods. Both wetlands have been selected by the wetland project as pilot sites for wetland management.

The teams have conducted a literature review, field research and exchange visits to verify common wetland issues on water resources management, natural resources utilisation and climate change adaptation, and best management practices for mutual learning and future cooperation.

At the meeting, attended by members of the technical working groups established under the project’s first outcome, participants finalised these issues for the joint report, which is part of the project’s second outcome. The report has been submitted to the MRC Secretariat for review. 

In addition, the teams also discussed activities under the project’s third outcome. Lao PDR’s team will prepare a strategic plan for Mak Mee sub-basin management, whereas the Thai team will develop an action plan for Nam Kam sub-basin management. A joint report with an emphasis on IWRM planning processes will also be prepared by the two countries.

The wetlands project is one of five bilateral projects funded by the World Bank under the MRC’s IWRMP, which aims to enhance transboundary cooperation between the lower Mekong countries for improved river basin management. 

Video Exchange Enriches Knowledge and Promotes Solutions on Lake Management

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Members of the Tonle Sap and Songkhla lakes project interview famers at Riang Pen Bey Tor Conservation and Development Area of the Tonle Sap basin in Battambang, Cambodia, during a video training workshop in November. @MRC

The joint team of the MRC’s member countries launched a new knowledge sharing initiative – Participatory Video Exchange – to enhance sharing of information and best practices on water resources management of Cambodia’s Tonle Sap and Thailand’s Songkhla Lakes in November.

The video exchange initiative is part of the Tonle Sap-Songkhla Lake Basins Communication Outreach Project under the MRC’s IWRMP. The sister-lake project, which began in 2014 as a joint project between Cambodia and Thailand, promotes and facilitates the process of reciprocal learning between the two lakes on lake governance by using communication tools as the main means for learning.

In this initiative, government officials and community representatives from the two lakes’ communities will act as citizen journalists to produce video clips on local lives and issues involving natural resources management, such as unsustainable practices of community fishing, lack of alternative sources of income in the fishing villages, and impacts of climate change. The videos will also feature practical solutions to address those challenges.

“Video exchange is an innovative and powerful audio-visual tool to create awareness, share knowledge and promote local solutions on management of the sister lakes of Tonle Sap and Songkhla,” said MRC’s Director of Planning Division, An Pich Hatda. “It will inspire thought and action from local communities and relevant institutions to sustainably manage their water resources.”   

To kick-off the video exchange initiative, the MRC’s IWRMP Communication Outreach Team organised a three-day videography training workshop from 22 to 24 November in Battambang, Cambodia. The workshop provided around 20 officials from the two governments and community representatives from the two lakes with videography skills, including shooting, storytelling and editing.

Within three days, the representatives teamed up in four mixed groups to produce four video clips on local issues, which were screened in a community in Battambang for peer-to-peer learning. These videos will be translated into Thai and will be shown in the two lakes’ communities for information exchange, discussion and further action.

“In the past, communication between the two lakes relied heavily on paper-based reports. With this initiative, we will have a more effective way for sharing knowledge and information and reach out to various audiences, calling for their support for better lake management,” said Sin Viseth, Director of the Department of Exploitation and Conservation Control of Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Authority.

Officials and community representatives from the project teams will continue to work on the video exchange initiative and plan to organise another filming workshop in Songkhla Lake in March 2017.

“This is a good starting point for sharing knowledge from people to people at the Tonle Sap and Songkhla lakes, and we hope this initiative will further promote collaboration between the two governments to expand their support to our local communities,” said Chatchai Ratanachai, National Consultant of the Thai National Mekong Committee on Songkhla Lake.

Cambodia, Lao PDR Strengthen Cooperation for Sustainable Fisheries

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Members of the Mekong and Sekong Rivers Fisheries Management Project from Cambodia and Lao PDR discuss with fishing communities in Attapeu province, Lao PDR, during an exchange visit in December to verify common fisheries management issues. @MRC

Officials from the National Mekong Committees and fisheries authorities of Cambodia and Lao PDR reaffirmed their commitment to enhancing transboundary cooperation for improved fisheries management in the bordering provinces of the two countries.

The reaffirmation came during an exchange visit in early December to the Mekong and Sekong rivers, connecting Champasak and Attapeu provinces of Lao PDR with Stung Treng and Kratie provinces of Cambodia.

“We have the same problems and concerns in managing our fisheries resources that are being threatened by human activities and infrastructure development,” said Deputy Secretary General of the Cambodia National Mekong Committee Watt Botkosal. “Promoting closer cooperation is crucial for the two countries to effectively address those issues.”

During the first joint field trip, organised under the MRC’s Mekong and Sekong Rivers Fisheries Management Project, the two counterparts visited a fish conservation zone in Attapeu and a fisheries community in Stung Treng where they learnt from each other on how communities manage their fisheries resources. They also verified transboundary fisheries issues in the Mekong and Sekong rivers for a joint comprehensive report, as a basis of establishing a joint management plan.

The Mekong and Sekong fisheries project is assisting the governments of Cambodia and Lao PDR to improve management of inland fisheries and conserve biodiversity of related ecosystems and species in the Mekong and Sekong rivers through cross-border cooperation, discussion and joint activities.

Through this project, fisheries specialists from the two countries have identified significant issues that they can jointly address, including unsustainable fishing practices, lack of enforcement of fisheries regulations, and habitat degradation due to excessive land use change.  They have also selected five whitefish species that migrate long distances and are commercially important for monitoring and managing at the transboundary level.

In addition, the two teams have agreed to adopt the MRC’s fish monitoring procedures to monitor fishers’ catch of whitefish species in the Mekong and Sekong rivers. They will commence the monitoring activities and train selected fishermen to document common fishing practices, profiles of fishing gear used, and map monitored habitats.

Another milestone they agreed to is to set up a joint fisheries management body by the end of the project in 2018.

At a joint workshop in Stung Treng province, organised in conjunction with the exchange visit, officials from Cambodia and Lao PDR agreed to increase efforts to establish the joint management body.

The two teams said they will discuss the structure of the joint body and financial issues, and identify stakeholders’ needs that are critical for a successful design and implementation of the joint management body and action plan.

Viengsay Sophachan, National Coordinator of the Lao National Mekong Committee, believes that the collaborative efforts will enhance the sustainability of the fisheries resource.

“We will continue our efforts to ensure that our bilateral cooperation complements one another for sustainable fisheries resource management that can support people’s livelihood while conserving nature,” he said. 

h national brief

The five bilateral projects are coordinated by each member country’s National Mekong Committee (NMC), which takes an active role in facilitating the work of line agencies and local working groups for the execution of those projects. Here’s a brief report from the four NMCs.

Cambodia

Participants from Rohasourng Sdei Krom fisheries community of Battambang, Cambodia, attend the public awareness event on natural resources conservation on 16 December, organised by the Tole Sap Lake and Songkhla Lake Basins Communication Outreach Project.

More than 250 people from Rohasoung Sdei Krom Fisheries Community – a pilot site for lake management in Battambang province – attended the first public awareness event on natural resources conservation on 16 December, organised under the IWRMP’s Tonle Sap and Songkla lakes project.

The public event raised awareness of the importance of natural resources including flooded forests, fisheries, and climate change adaptation, and promoted a better understanding of fisheries law and regulations.

The meeting called for more involvement from local people in managing their natural resources.

“Public participation is critical for successful management of our natural resources. We hope that they get involved as they begin to understand more about the importance of their role and the importance of the resources,” said Deputy Director of the Rohasoung Sdeikorm Fisheries Community Hor Sam Ath.

On 7 November, the project team also held a capacity building workshop to train 30 people representing national and provincial authorities and community on IWRM-based lake management and community rules.

In addition, the Tonle Sap Lake project team conducted a field survey to collect data and identify key issues on community empowerment, fisheries and climate change impacts in the lake. The information will be used for the development of working papers capturing key lessons and proposed solutions on lake management.

Meanwhile, the Cambodia National Mekong Committee, in collaboration with the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, organised a national meeting with 20 officials from line ministries on 4 November to collect data and information on the existing cooperation mechanisms for water resources management, including policy on water uses, in the Sesan-Srepok sub-basins and the Mekong Delta.

The discussion is a core step towards the development of joint transboundary coordination mechanisms between Cambodia and Viet Nam, under the IWRMP’s Mekong Delta and Sesan-Srepok transboundary projects.

Following this, collection of field data at the sub national level in the Sesan-Srepok sub-basins and the Mekong Delta of Cambodia is planned for the end of January 2017.

Lao PDR

A boundary marker is put in place at the Mak Mee sub-basin in Savannaket, Lao PDR, to define the wetland area. By the end of January, a total of 120 stone markers will be placed around the basin by the Xe Bang Hieng-Nam Kam project team. @ Lao National Mekong Committee/Thilaphone Phoumma

Working groups from the Xe Bang Hieng – Nam Kam wetlands project, in collaboration with local authorities and community people, in early November kicked off the placement of boundary markers at Mak Mee sub-basin in Savannaket province of Lao PDR. The sub-basin is part of the Xe Bang Hieng river basin where the wetland project is situated.

The activity will be carried out until the end of January 2017 and a total of 120 markers will be placed around the sub-basin to define the wetland area, and also fishing and conservation zones, during the rainy season.

Before the markers were placed, the Mak Mee wetland was defined by trees, which have since been damaged by flood and basin erosion, said Keoudone Chounlamountry, Deputy Director of Natural Resources and Environment Office of Champhone District, Savannaket province.

“The stone markers will help local authorities and communities to better monitor and manage fisheries and water resources,” she said.

The wetlands project working groups also organised a GIS mapping training to build capacity of local officials to undertake field surveys, collect data, and identify suitable locations, using GPS, to place the stone markers.

These activities are under the project’s third outcome which will promote knowledge exchange on community water management in the Xe Bang Hieng basin of Lao PDR and Nam Kam basin of Thailand.

Meanwhile, from 11-14 October, the Mekong-Sekong fisheries project team conducted training on data collection and monitoring for 30 fishermen in Champasak and Attapeu Provinces. Participants from target districts of the two provinces learnt how to collect and record fish catch to support fish monitoring in the Mekong-Sekong river basins.

The current status and trends in fish catch will be used as baseline information to assess changes and impacts on the fisheries sector caused by climate change and infrastructure development.

Thailand

Participants join a workshop on 25 November in Nakhon Phanom, Thailand, organised by the Xe Bang Hieng-Nam Kam wetlands project to analyze data on fisheries resources. It is one of a series of data and information analysis workshops being conducted at the 15 pilot sites in Nam Kam basin. @Wetland project team

The Thai working groups for the Xe Bang Hieng – Nam Kam wetlands project organised a series of data and information analysis workshops in November and December at five pilot sites in the Nakhon Phanom Province of Thailand. The workshops analysed data on fisheries resources and assessed risk factors related to the management of the resource. It also enhanced the capacity of members of the sub-district working group members to apply information for updating the fisheries database. Similar workshops will be conducted at the other 10 pilot sites in Sakon Nakhon and Nakhon Phanom provinces during the first quarter of 2017.

The data analysis workshops were conducted following data and information collection at the 15 pilot areas of both northeastern provinces, within the Nam Kam basin. Once completed, the working groups plan is to compile a risk assessment report which will be shared with the Lao counterpart for information and knowledge exchange.

The wetlands project also held its 11th meeting on 25 December to discuss the project’s progress, remaining activities to be carried out, and its workplan for 2017. A joint workshop and forum between the Thai and Laotian teams are planned for March and July 2017, respectively.

On 7 December, a seminar on water resources management in the Nam Kam basin was organized and attended by 80 participants from the Nong Han wetland. The participants shared their views on development impacts on livelihood and solutions to these impacts.

Director of Inland Fisheries Research and Development Center 3 (Sakon Nakhon), Thanawat Chatchawanthatree, who chaired the seminar said input from participants would be incorporated into a development plan being prepared by line government agencies.

Viet Nam

Mekong Delta is one of the world most productive agricultural regions. To support sustainable growth, the Mekong Delta project is assisting the governments of Cambodia and Viet Nam to enhance cooperation for better management of shared water resources. @MRC

The Mekong Delta project team from 22 to 25 November held consultations with local communities living along the boundary provinces of Dong Thap, An Giang and Kien Giang to verify transboundary water resources management issues captured in the joint issues paper (final draft).

The team also met with provincial departments and research centers such as the Southern Institute for Water Resources Research and the Sub-National Institute for Water Agricultural Planning and Protection to verify data and information needed to address the transboundary challenges.

They also discussed mechanisms for transboundary flood forecasts and salvages and possible water resource management projects in the transboundary region.

The Sesan-Srepok project team, meanwhile, also organised a national consultation meeting in the central highlands of Viet Nam on 6 December. The meeting discussed the joint final draft issues paper on water resources management issues in preparation for the second outcome of the project, which will consider transboundary coordination mechanisms to improve transboundary water resource management.

 

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