Vientiane, Lao PDR, 2 February 2021 – Experts and officials from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, Viet Nam and the Republic of Korea working on water resources management kicked off the 2nd Knowledge Sharing Programme (KSP) today with an online seminar, and discussed collaborative activities towards advancing knowledge for improving flood and drought management in the Mekong River Basin.

Over the next seven months, the Mekong and Korean specialists will jointly explore actions for enhancing the Mekong River Commission’s (MRC) flood and drought forecasting and early warning systems, including by using artificial intelligence and big data-related technologies, and developing interactive platforms for improved dissemination of flood and drought forecasts. The analysis will inform the development of an integrated strategy for flood and drought management and communication.

“The 2nd KSP comes in a very critical time as the Mekong region is facing increasing risks from extreme floods and droughts, climate change and developments” says Dr An Pich Hatda, the MRC Secretariat’s Chief Executive Officer.

“I believe it will bring about new knowledge and actionable policy recommendations, critical to creating innovative solutions for flood and drought management in the basin,” he adds.

The Mekong and Korean specialists attend the online regional seminar.

The KSP is the second programme of its kind that will be implemented jointly by the MRC and the Korea Development Institute (KDI), with financial support from the Government of Korea. The 1st KSP was launched in 2017, as part of Mekong-Korea Cooperation, creating an avenue for the two to collaborate on sharing knowledge and experience in river basin planning and hydropower development and management.

Following today’s launching seminar, the Mekong and Korean specialists will meet again at the policy seminar on data collection, reporting workshop on research findings, and dialogue workshop on policy recommendations. The one-year program will be concluded by a production of a policy report for improving flood and drought, forecasting, management and dissemination in the Mekong River Basin.

“We hope the KSP will provide a meaningful platform through a structured policy dialogue and an exchange of practical experiences and knowledge from Korea and MRC Member Countries,” says Dr Youngkon Jin, KDI’s Project Chief Advisor.

Flood and drought remain key challenges for the Mekong region, causing more damage and fatalities than any other natural disasters. The repercussions of floods alone account for 70 million US dollar annually. These damages have sweeping ecological impacts on affected communities and sectors. Recent MRC studies show that these trends will carry on into the coming decades, requiring collective efforts in addressing the problems.

The MRC plays an important role in basin-wide coordination of flood and drought mitigation activities and encouraging a collaborative approach that benefits its Member Countries – Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam.

Over the past decades, the MRC has been providing the lower Mekong countries with a range of information, forecasts and decision-support tools to better prepare for, monitor and respond to flood and drought risks. It is now working to enhance its forecasting capacity and accuracy, improve data and information sharing, and strengthen resilience against climate change. These are among the main strategic priorities in the new Basin Development Strategy 2021-2030 and the MRC Strategic Plan 2021-2025. The KSP will contribute to achieving the strategic priorities.