26th Oct 2015
IWRMP's quarterly eNewsletter tells stories on the transboundary water resources management initiatives.
Representatives of the all four National Mekong Committees met with coordinators of the Mekong River Commission’s various programmes on 3 July in Ho Chi Minh City to discuss the progress made in their national, transboundary and regional projects under the Mekong Integrated Water Resources Management Project (M-IWRMP).
The M-IWRMP is a cross-cutting project to facilitate integrated water management approaches across the lower Mekong basin through the MRC’s procedures, tools and guidelines on water use and management. It aims to promote cross-sector collaboration in policy-making and actions on how to manage common assets of water and related natural resources for sustainable development. Under this umbrella project, three layers of inter-connected activities are taking place at the national, transboundary and regional levels. The five bilateral projects of fisheries, wetlands and lake basins management fall in at the transboundary level.
The meeting was the seventh project coordination and management meeting to update the project’s progress and discuss the way forward. During the one-day meeting, the participants were briefed on the achievements in the regional component including the preparation of a final report on the MRC Procedures, and a comprehensive review on the lessons learnt from the prior-consultation on hydropower development projects on the Mekong mainstream. The representatives of the NMCs also presented their progress in their bilateral projects and discussed the challenges ahead including the pace of implementation and budgetary issues.
National coordinators and focal points of the five transboundary projects in the lower Mekong basin set up a communication network with the MRC’s International Cooperation and Communication Section to boost joint promotion to reach out to a wider audience.
The transboundary projects are bilateral projects among the four member countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. As the projects involve various stakeholders, from government line agencies to local authorities to community water user groups, communication work will be a key to gain the necessary support from these stakeholders to ensure successful implementation.
Since the commencement of the projects in 2014, most of the communication work in the project areas has rested in the hands of the respective project teams. With the network, the five project teams now have a common platform to promote their work jointly through the ICCS communication channels such as the MRC website (www.mrcmekong.org) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/Mekong-River-Commission-165798426775632/timeline/).
The network was formed during the regional meeting on communication work from 27-28 July in Phnom Penh, where the five project teams discussed the timeframe of work activities and communication opportunities. During the meeting, the participants were also benefitted from tutorial sessions on how to effectively use the MRC knowledge portals such as the official website, MRC Data Portal and the two libraries in Phnom Penh and Vientiane.
Three bilateral project teams of Cambodia, Lao PDR and Thailand held a separate joint meeting in August and September to review their activities and revise their project implementation plans in an effort to streamline the activities.
On 17 August, the Cambodian and Thai representatives of the Tonle Sap Lake – Songkhla Lake Basins outreach project met in Bangkok to exercise a logical framework analysis on their project work plan as a response to the financer World Bank’s recommendations. About 15 team members got together and went over the project document’s detailed work plan to prioritise focused activities in order to enhance the peer-to-peer learning of the two lakes in basin community development.
Team members of the Xe Bang Hieng and Nam Kam wetlands management project of Lao PDR and Thailand met in Vientiane on 25 August to update the implementation plan and discuss the upcoming reciprocal field visits of the wetland communities. A dozen participants exchanged ideas on suitable locations and expected outcomes of the field visits, and set the dates for the last quarter of 2015. Management teams of the two wetlands are expected to enhance their dialogue on water use and management.
The Mekong – Sekong Rivers Fisheries management team of Cambodia and Lao PDR benefited from the expertise of World Bank fisheries specialists to refine its work plan at a workshop held in Phnom Penh from 14-15 September. The project is designed to improve the fisheries management in the border areas around Champassak and Kratie for sustainable development of the transboundary area. It began in late 2013, but little progress has been made so far. The workshop aimed to streamline the focus of activities so as to achieve the maximum results within the project’s three-year life cycle.
The Sesan – Srepok Rivers project and the Mekong Delta project between Cambodia and Viet Nam have drafted and exchanged national papers on potential transboundary issues such as the impacts of hydropower development in preparation for a joint paper of baseline studies on priority transboundary issues to address together.
The joint paper will be a basis for the future cooperation between the two countries, guiding how to address those issues to mitigate the negative impacts and improve the livelihoods of people in the region.
The two national teams of the Sesan – Srepok project, for example, have identified impacts of the hydropower development and sand mining activities on the upper stream of the rivers as some of the major issues. The Mekong Delta teams, meanwhile, found so far the impacts of development including hydropower dams and climate change as some of the priorities to address.
Additional national water resources consultants assisted with the preparation of the national papers, following discussions with the project financier World Bank in mid-June.
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.
On 17 September, the Tonle Sap Authority and the Cambodia National Mekong Committee jointly held a training workshop on integrated water resources management (IWRM) concept and practice for national planning offices and line agencies. A total of 33 people from the national authorities, provincial departments of meteorology, agriculture and fisheries, and the Fisheries and Environmental Protection Communities participated in the workshop. The participants discussed common water resource management issues such as overfishing, droughts and floods and shared best practices to manage such issues.
The Xe Bang Hieng wetlands management team held a workshop on 17 August in the southern province of Savannakhet to identify priority sites for the exchange visit with its counterpart, the Nam Kam wetlands team in Thailand. A total of 31 participants had lively discussions on specific issues in the project area, and selected the Makmee sub river basin of Xe Champhone as a visit site.
Following the site selection, the team held a technical working group meeting from 31 August – 1 September to collect baseline date for the preparation of a questionnaire for the upcoming exchange visits.
Three public events were organized in the Songkhla Lake basin in August, all to help enhance the natural resources management and livelihoods of the basin communities under the Tonle Sap and Songkhla Lake Basin communication outreach project. The Sokgkhla Lake transboundary working group got involved in the events’ organisation.
A local climate change adaptation workshop held on 22 August in Thale Noi sensitized about 30 local fishermen on climate change issues and its impacts such as changes in storm patterns. The participants agreed to establish community fishing rules, fishery resources conservation zones, a surveillance programme and a special organisation to follow the Coming Fishery Act 2015.
Taksin University’s Community College hosted the 8th “Care for the Lake Campaign” forum from 27-28 August where 3000 people gathered to promote environmentally friendly organic farming to build food security based on natural resources.
On 28 August, more than 1000 people participated in the opening of the traditional Thai farmers’ village in Tahin, a popular ecotourism site. The miniature village aims to emulate lifestyles of traditional Thai farmers, portraying close linkages between livelihoods and natural resources.
Representatives of Viet Nam participated in on-going negotiations on a tri-lateral agreement on regional development of the Cambodia-Lao PDR-Viet Nam triangle, which covers its transboundary projects of the Sesan – Srepok management and the Mekong – Sekong management. During the two-day meeting held in the Lao province of Champassac from 23-24 September, about 70 representatives from the three countries discussed a draft agreement aiming to promote trade. Discussions touched upon issues related to agriculture, forestry, transportation and security, all of which are subject to transboundary water resources management.