New Books: Mekong Water Management Challenges Identified for Collaborative Planning
28 September 2017, Vientiane, Lao PDR – Exploitative fishing practices, uncoordinated development of water infrastructure, and insufficient monitoring and sharing of hydro-data are among the major challenges facing Cambodia, Lao PDR and Viet Nam in managing their shared water resources across the Mekong borders, say new studies examining barriers to ensuring sustainable management of the Mekong’s water.
Stepping up collaborative efforts to address impacts of the hydro-infrastructure development and other water-related issues must be a priority in these countries, according to findings and recommendations in three reports produced by the National Mekong Committees of Cambodia, Lao PDR and Viet Nam, under the MRC’s Mekong Integrated Water Resources Management Project (M-IWRMP).
"Managing the Mekong’s precious water and its related resources is complicated and requires regional cooperation. The three countries need to further strengthen collaboration to identify and agree on solutions, and prepare coordinated planning and management mechanisms to tackle the challenges they are facing,” said An Pich Hatda, MRC’s Director of Planning Division.
Published in early September, one of the reports jointly produced by Cambodia and Lao PDR examines fisheries management issues in the Mekong and Sekong Rivers along the borders of the two neighbors. It identifies exploitative fishing practices, habitat degradation, and lack of fisheries data and their sharing as the main obstacles that need to be addressed.
Another joint report from Cambodia and Viet Nam places emphasis on water resources management in the Mekong Delta across the two territories. Issues identified include lack of strategic transboundary management plan of flood and drought control, uncoordinated development of water infrastructure and limited monitoring network on hydrological, meteorological and water quality data.
In the report focusing on water resources in the Sesan and Srepok River Basins, Cambodia and Viet Nam cite insufficient monitoring and assessment of water flow, lack of flood forecasting and warning mechanisms, and limited mitigation measures to address the impacts of hydro-infrastructural development as key barriers to managing the basins’ water resources.
These reports were produced based on literature reviews, consultations with national and local stakeholders and field surveys. They also provide strategic recommendations, including reinforcing bilateral collaboration and empowering the coordination mechanisms in order to respond to the challenges identified.
Building on these studies, the countries will work together on a bilateral basis to develop joint cooperation schemes to address some of the issues.
With financial support from the World Bank, the MRC’s M-IWRMP will continue to assist these lower Mekong countries in fostering more sustainable water development and management and maximising benefits to the livelihoods of the riverine communities.
Informative Brochure on Bilateral Cooperation among Mekong Countries Released
The MRC has also released a new brochure titled Transboundary Dialogue under Mekong Integrated Water Resources Management Project, which provides a snapshot of five bilateral projects being implemented by four Mekong countries to address cross-border water resources issues in the Lower Mekong Basin.
In a dozen pages, with plain languages and photographs, the brochure describes the focus of the projects designed to strengthen regional cooperation for better management of water and related resources, in particular fisheries, wetland, delta, lake and river basin, in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam.
It emphasizes the challenges that put water resources under increasing pressure from, for example, urbanization, infrastructure development and climate change that affect riverine communities beyond national borders. It notes that although the four countries have developed several methodologies and tools to address the issues, more could be done through transboundary dialogue and cooperation initiatives established under the projects.
The brochure highlights the projects’ expected outcomes, results achieved so far, and the next steps to be taken by these countries to tackle the challenges, including the development of action plans and incorporation of lessons from the projects into national development plans.
With financial support from the World Bank under the MRC’s M-IWRMP, the brochure is now available in English and Thai, to be followed by Khmer, Laotian and Vietnamese. It will be printed and distributed for dissemination events at regional and national levels as well as for the general public.
Note to editors:
The MRC is an intergovernmental organisation 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 Organisation 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.