Vientiane, Lao PDR, 9 July 2018 – The government of Japan has re-affirmed its support to the Mekong River Commission in continuing activities under a project to improve irrigation facilities across the lower Mekong countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam, MRC CEO Pham Tuan Phan said.

In a meeting, held on 5 July 2018 in Vientiane, between the CEO and representatives from the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Japan offered its clear support to this project and its on-going associated activities which require US$1.4 million to implement.


CEO Pham Tuan Phan (middle) and Mr. Hidefumi Murashita (third, right), Deputy Director of Overseas Land Improvement Cooperation Office of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, hold talks at a meeting in Vientiane.

Over its four-year life span from 2017 to 2021, the Japanese support focuses on improving fish-friendly irrigation schemes that seek to promote fish passage installation on irrigation facilities, monitoring agricultural land use changes, improving the MRC’s irrigation database, and supporting sustainable groundwater use and management for crop production across the lower basin.

The support is in line with the MRC’s Strategic Plan 2016-2020 that captures the future need of the basin in terms of irrigation expansion and address key challenges in the sustainable use of water of the lower Mekong basin.

“This support from the Japanese government will assist the MRC to bring about more efficient practices on irrigation planning and better promote our efforts to improve livelihoods and mitigate environmental impacts from irrigation in the basin,” CEO Pham said.

The government of Japan is one of the longstanding development partners of the MRC. Since 2001, the government has granted over US$13 million to support several projects, including those on flood and drought management, irrigation, safe navigation, climate change and environmental management.

With the current financial support, Japan believes it will be used to strengthen economic opportunities through agriculture and irrigation where millions of people depend on for their main income and food sources.

“Poverty reduction through improved irrigation is the key objective of development cooperation of Japan. We support MRC in this area because we believe agriculture is an important intervention for reducing poverty,” said Mr. Hidefumi Murashita, Deputy Director of Overseas Land Improvement Cooperation Office of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries.

Late last month, Japan and the MRC also launched a study on forest conservation and river basin management in the lower Mekong basin to better manage and conserve the environmental health of the basin. The study covers five Mekong countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, Viet Nam and Myanmar, and will finish in March 2019.

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Note to editors:

The Mekong River Commission is an intergovernmental organization for regional dialogue and cooperation in the lower Mekong river basin, established in 1995 based on the Mekong Agreement between Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. The organization serves as a regional platform for water diplomacy as well as a knowledge hub of water resources management for the sustainable development of the region.