MRC Transboundary Dialogue, Issue 9

Vientiane, Lao PDR, 20th Jul 2017

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

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Issue 9: April - June 2017

 New Video on Cross Border Water Cooperation Released


 

The Mekong River Commission (MRC) has released a new video to raise public awareness on the potential for improved water cooperation among the lower Mekong countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam through the MRC’s Mekong Integrated Water Resources Management Project (M-IWRMP).

Titled Mekong Transboundary Dialogue, the 7-minute film gives an overview of five bilateral projects focusing on fisheries, wetland, delta, lake and river basin management to address transboundary water issues in the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB). The projects have been implemented by the four MRC's member countries as part of the M-IWRMP since 2013 and 2014 and are expected to be completed in 2018.

“The video highlights water management challenges along the Mekong borders and presents solutions and efforts made by the riparian countries to improve water dialogue and governance in the Mekong basin,” said An Pich Hatda, MRC’s Director of the Planning Division.

In the video, government officials and community members share their views on impacts of urbanization, infrastructure development and climate change that affect riverine communities across borders. They join the MRC and its development partners in their call for better transboundary cooperation to tackle those issues.

The short film was produced in collaboration with the National Mekong Committee of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam, with financial support from the World Bank through the MRC's M-IWRMP that facilitate cross-border cooperation for sustainable development of the LMB.

Watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45rqjz6qXRo

 

New Transboundary Webpage Promotes Information Sharing on Water Resources

MIWRM project page2

 

The MRC’s M-IWRM Project has launched a newly redesigned webpage to promote better sharing of information and insights on problems and solutions to water resources issues in the LMB through cross-border dialogue and cooperation.

Created under the existing MRC's website, the new webpage comes with a user-friendly platform, streamlined content structure and improved menu that users can gather all relevant informat1on from a quick read.

"The redesigned platform directs users to the most important content about transboundary water issues in the Lower Mekong Basin and how they are being addressed with only a single click," said Piriya Uraiwong, MRC's M-IWRM Specialist. “We hope it would further promote information sharing, increase audience engagement and encourage actions for improving the management of water and related resources."

The webpage was enhanced with a new activity page containing a range of new content, including project data sheets that provide up-to-date information about five bilateral projects focusing on fisheries, wetland, delta, lake and river basin management to address transboundary pressures from urbanisation, infrastructural development and climate change that affect the livelihoods of riverine communities across borders.

These projects have been implemented by the lower Mekong countries such as Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam, with financial support from the World Bank through the MRC's M-IWRMP.

In addition, the webpage includes project news and transboundary e-newsletter that present fresh activities undertaken under the five projects. It is also a host of photo and video stories that highlight challenges and successes in water resources management.

Going forward, the site will be regularly up dated with news articles, photo and video content, and publications designed to serve different audiences from different origins.

Take a minute to browse the new webpage here: http://www.mrcmekong.org/about-mrc/mekong-integrated-water-resources-management-project/

 IWRM Project’s Progress Reported to New World Bank Team Leader

World Bank Mtg2

 

The MRC’s M-IWRMP team shared in late June its latest progress with an incoming officer of the project donor World Bank.

Greg Browder, World Bank’s water resources management specialist, who has overseen the bank-supported activities under the M-IWRMP for the last two years, led a mission to the MRC to introduce his colleague Daryl Fields as a new officer to take over the leading role. Fields is a senior water resources management specialist and stationed at the bank’s Vientiane office.

“It’s been a rewarding journey to work with the MRC to promote transboundary dialogue. I hope the MRC will continue strengthening dialogue to advance the better management of water resources in the basin,” said Browder when meeting with the MRC team headed by Planning Division Director An Pich Hatda.

The Director appreciated the Bank’s support for the MRC project and expressed that the bank would continue its support beyond the IWRMP. “I wish the World Bank join the Annual Consultation meeting to share its plan and position on its investments in the Mekong River Basin,” said the Director, inviting Fields to the upcoming donor meeting.

The World Bank has been one of the key donors to the MRC for decades, funding first the Water Utilisation Programme from 2000 to 2008 and now the M-IWRMP.

The M-IWRMP is a cross-cutting project that promotes multi-sectoral planning and management of water resources within the region through transboundary cooperation while applying the MRC’s procedural rules and tools on water use negotiations, river flow monitoring and data sharing. The World Bank started funding the project in 2012, mainly supporting the five bilateral projects between the MRC member countries.

The IWRMP team reported that the five bilateral projects have slowly but steadily progressed toward the overarching goals of transboundary cooperation along the borders and beyond. The team also explained the current status of the development of the guidelines on transboundary environmental impact assessment, the support for the improvement of the MRC procedural rules, and the communication work.

The bank and the MRC team further discussed how to accelerate the implementation of the planned activities to complete the project by March 2018. 

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

CAM3

Fishermen in Stung Treng join training on data collection and reporting methods. ©Cambodia National Mekong Committee/Phai Sok Heng

The Cambodian working group of the Mekong-Sekong fisheries project, in partnership with the Inland fisheries Research and Development Institute and the Fisheries Administration, conducted field works in June to identify fish monitoring sites along the Mekong and Sekong rivers for the development of fish monitoring scheme with the Lao counterpart.

Twelve fishermen from four fisheries communities in Stung Treng province were selected and trained how to monitor the size and weight of fish species from their daily fish catch and how to record this information. The data collection is vital to understand fish presence and safeguard fish populations for improving transboundary fisheries management at the border provinces between Cambodia and Lao PDR.

Meanwhile, the Songkhla-Tonle Sap lakes project team also identified fish monitoring sites in Battambang province where fishermen were trained on data collection of fish species and reporting methods. For comparison purposes, a monitoring site was also selected in Pursat province. The team will then develop fish monitoring tools for better management of fisheries resources in the Tonle Sap Lake.

In addition, the lakes project also organised a training workshop to strengthen knowledge and understanding of project monitoring and evaluation. Twenty-seven participants from national, provincial and community levels learned how to monitor, assess process, measure results against expected outcomes, and document reports for better lake management.

Also in June, working groups of the Mekong Delta and Sesan-Srepok projects conducted literature reviews on transboundary water management, flood risk management and stakeholder engagement to understand types of data and information required for the development of coordination mechanisms for sharing information and improving collaboration with Viet Nam to address water issues in the projects’ areas. The teams planned to organise two consultation workshops in July to collect input from stakeholders at the national level.

Lao PDR

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Steering committee for the management of Mak Mee wetland discusses regulatory frameworks for managing wetland resources. ©Lao National Mekong Committee/Khampiane Khanthanaluk

The Xe Bang Hieng-Nam Kam wetlands project team, local authorities and community representatives met at a consultation workshop in mid-June to finalise rules and regulations for better management of the Mak Mee wetland located in Savannakhet province of Lao PDR. The wetland area is part of the Xe Bang Hieng river basin that provides rich ecosystems to support local livelihoods. Prior to the workshop, in April, a steering committee for the management of Mak Mee wetland, composing of 43 members from three villages, was established. The committee is tasked with monitoring the implementation of the rules and regulations and promoting understanding among villages of mechanisms to manage the wetland resources.

Also in April, the Mekong-Sekong fisheries project visited three districts in Attapeu province to collect data on fish abundances and diversity and catch rates in the Mekong and Sekong rivers. This activity is part of the efforts to develop fish monitoring program.

Thailand

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Participants join mushroom production training at Tahin’s Nod Na Le Center. ©Thai National Mekong Committee/Chatchai Ratanachai

The climate change adaptation working group of the Songkhla-Tonle Sap lakes project on 19 June organised a workshop for 50 participants to discuss results of an alarming survey on fish species in Thailand’s Thale Noi, which is part of the Songkhla Lake Basin. Conducted for more than eight months with 20 field visits, the survey found that fish species have declined from 80 in 1967, when the first alarming survey was conducted, to around 50 this year. The decline was due to exploitative fishing practices and climate change. Participants agreed to increase patrolling activities and improve fish habitats, including restoring the water flow, removing weeds and pest species, and protecting aquatic vegetation.

Also in June, the project’s women empowerment working group trained 25 participants on skills and value addition techniques to produce mushroom products, including mushroom cake, juice and crisp rice, that can improve household incomes and livelihoods.

Meanwhile, the Xe Bang Hieng-Nam Kam wetlands project team in April held a national consultation meeting to discuss project progress, workplan and financial status. They also exchanged views for the preparation of the regional forum on Mekong Transboundary Cooperation to be held in Thailand’s Sakon Nakhon province in August. The forum aims at strengthening cross-border collaboration among lower Mekong countries and sharing experiences and expertise on transboundary projects implementation based on the integrated water resources management practices.

In addition, the wetland project team organised a series of workshops on data collection and information analysis in Sakon Nakhon province to collect and analyse data on fisheries resources for updating the fisheries database and the management of wetland resources.

Viet Nam

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Projects’ teams meet with local authorities to identify mechanisms needed for addressing water issues. ©Viet Nam National Mekong Committee/Vu Minh Thien

The Vietnamese teams of the Sesan-Srepok and the Mekong Delta projects in April met with local government officials at the provincial level to collect data and information needed for the development of coordination mechanisms for sharing information and improving bilateral cooperation with Cambodia for addressing joint transboundary water management issues. Earlier this year, the projects’ teams met with government officials and research institutes at the national level.

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