Mekong countries reaffirm bilateral water cooperation along borders
29 August 2017, Da Nang, Viet Nam – Representatives of four Mekong countries reaffirmed at a meeting their commitment to expedite their five bilateral projects that promote transboundary dialogue and improve coordinated water resources management along the borders.
The Mekong River Commission invited all project teams from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam for a project coordination and management meeting in Da Nang to discuss the progress of each project and challenges facing the bilateral teams to develop bilateral water coordination mechanisms and action plans.
Dr. An Pich Hatda, who leads the MRC’s Planning Division, said when both the MRC Secretariat and the four countries could further enhance cooperation, the two sides could attain what was planned.
“The MRC Secretariat has its responsibility on the one hand, and the countries have theirs on the other hand. If we put both hands together, we can achieve our goals in completing our projects,” Dr. Hatda said during his opening statement, encouraging the participants to constructively contribute to the discussion and address the confronting issues.
The five projects are part of the MRC’s Mekong Integrated Water Resources Management Project, currently funded by the World Bank. Addressing water resources management in fisheries, delta, lake, river and wetland, the four countries are trying to establish better coordination mechanisms at local levels to tackle joint priority issues, such as severe flood and drought, decreased fish stocks, and impacts of hydropower and other development.
As the five projects are slated for completion by March 2018, the representatives discussed how to expedite the implementation to complete their projects on time.
During the meeting, the countries said they were committed to completing all outputs as fast as they could, but reported on some difficulties. They reported on some constraints and challenges in assessing how the existing national coordination mechanisms, for example, in water flow data sharing and flood warning could be a basis for extended bilateral cooperation mechanisms, without having frequent bilateral meetings and field trips to consult with local stakeholders. They further stated they wished to get the projects extended to deliver concrete and quality outputs to help establish transboundary cooperation mechanisms between provinces and provinces along the borders.
Upon discussions, the MRC’s M-IWRMP coordination team responded the team would relay the needs for extension to the World Bank and provide necessary support for the project teams to continue quality work to establish bilateral mechanisms and action plans.
“We’re very committed to completing our projects to have better coordination mechanisms between the countries,” said Mr. Viengsai Sophachanh, who is the national focal point for M-IWRMP at the Lao National Mekong Committee Secretariat, a comment similarly shared by representatives from the other three countries.
“I hope the World Bank would continue supporting our projects, so that we could address priority water resources management issues for our people,” he continued.