Joint Visit to the Mekong River Strengthens Research Collaboration
On 13 and 14 December, representatives from the Mekong River Commission (MRC) Member Countries, China, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), and the MRC Secretariat made a joint visit to the Mekong River. The visit, which focused on a stretch of the river that runs through Nakhon Phanom in Thailand, was organized as part of the Joint Research on Hydrological Impacts of the Lancang Hydropower Cascade on Downstream Extreme Events – a cooperative activity between the MRC and the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Mechanism.
The main aim of the two-day visit was to provide an opportunity for participants to gain first-hand experience of hydrological conditions at the downstream area of the Nam Songkhram Basin and wetlands.
“Understanding the downstream hydrological conditions of the river and water management issues has enabled the research team to improve their modelling capabilities and strengthen their analysis and interpretation of research findings,” said Mr. Long Saravuth, Deputy Secretary General of Cambodia National Mekong Committee and Head of the Cambodian Delegation.
The participants visited key sites along the river, including the main hydrological station on the Mekong mainstream at Nakhon Phanom as well as management facilities at the Nam Kam Irrigation Project. A trip to Nong Han Lake – the second largest lake in Thailand – was particularly instructive with regards to its rules of operation and its water resources system.
The visit also served as an effective platform for participants to exchange data on the Joint Research and share ideas from various perspectives, encouraging cooperation and trust in the pursuit of shared interests.
Mr. Zhang Xu, Inspector (Director General Level), Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters highlighted how the joint visit promoted the discussion of key issues: “The participants had an opportunity to exchange their concerns on water management, energy production, and riparian livelihoods that depend on the river. Notable topics of discussion centered on navigation, irrigation, fish farming and water supply.”
Participants in the Joint Research are the MRC Secretariat, Chinese Ministry of Water Resources, the International Water Management Institute, the Lancang-Mekong Water Resources Cooperation Center, and Lancang-Mekong countries.
The joint visit was hosted by Thai National Mekong Committee Secretariat in cooperation with Department of Water Resources, Sakhon Nakhon Inland Fisheries Research and Development Center, and Nam Kam O&M Irrigation Project/Royal Irrigation Department. It has strengthened cooperation between the MRC and the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Mechanism. The Joint Research team aims to complete their research in October 2018, and present a technical report at a dissemination workshop to be organized later in the year.