Vientiane, Lao PDR, 19 January 2022 — The Mekong River Commission (MRC) and German development agency GIZ have signed an agreement to implement the second phase of the Transboundary Water Cooperation Programme in the Lower Mekong Basin.

The new agreement, signed on 17 January 2022, follows funding commitments made last November by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development granting the MRC an additional EUR 4.45 million over the next three years. The programme will enhance the MRC’s ability to monitor and address challenges in the LMB, including threats posed by climate change, especially flood and drought.

Dr Anoulak Kittikhoun, Chief Executive Officer of the MRC Secretariat, said at the signing ceremony that the implementation agreement puts into effect the activities that would boost the capacity of the MRC and the national Mekong committees.

“The German support will pave the way for us to further advance our ability to monitor the state of the Mekong River, effectively collect data and conduct analysis for better informed decisions, and proactively protect the future of the many lives that depend on the Basin.”

According to a recent MRC report, the LMB has witnessed record low flows for the third consecutive year, with river levels dropping to their lowest points in more than 60 years, due to highly reduced rainfall and worsening climate conditions. The report also notes that while reverse flows into the Tonle Sap in 2019 were close to average, those in 2020 and 2021 were the lowest on record.

Dr Christina Seeberg-Elverfeldt, Head of Development Cooperation of the German Embassy to Lao PDR, said the second phase would strengthen joint planning and Basin management in order to boost climate resilience in the shared sub-basin between Cambodia and Thailand and others.

“The project aims to further build the capacity of MRC’s staff and relevant regional line agencies working on the MRC Core River Monitoring Network for informed decisions over the development and management of water resources, contributing to the increase of the MRC’s ability to manage flood and drought risks in the Lower Mekong Basin more effectively.”

The first phase of the Transboundary Water Cooperation agreement was instrumental in deepening cooperation between and among the MRC Member Countries: Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. In addition to the joint environment monitoring of mainstream dams at the regional level, the project supported bilateral cooperation whereas the Regional Steering Committees of Cambodia and Thailand approved a five-year Master Plan on Transboundary Flood and Drought Management in the Tonle Sap sub-basin and a respective Basin Atlas.

Germany is a long-standing contributor to the MRC dating back to the establishment of the Commission in 1995 and has provided more than EUR 67 million in technical and financial support.