River monitoring, forecasting functions receive additional funding from Japan
Vientiane, Lao PDR, 26 February 2021 – The government of Japan today granted USD2.9 million to the Mekong River Commission (MRC) to implement its new strategic plan, seeking to promote responsible development in the region.
The Mekong River and its tributaries support nearly 70 million people in the Lower Mekong Basin, providing livelihoods, food security and rich ecosystem services. Countries in the LMB suffered record low water levels along the Mekong River in 2019 and 2020 and saw livelihoods disrupted.
“The new funding gets right to the heart of the challenges our region faces and will be facing in the future,” said Dr An Pich Hatda, MRC Secretariat Chief Executive Officer, at a signing ceremony held at MRC Secretariat Headquarters in Vientiane.
Spanning four years from 2021 to 2024, the funding will increase the MRC’s and its Member Countries’ – Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam – ability to monitor and assess the river environment, and adapt to prevailing changes.
Key activities funded by the grant include improved river monitoring networks and forecasting capabilities, and the establishment of new monitoring stations on the Mekong River. The grant will also be used to improve public information on flooding and drought through the use of advanced technologies, ensuring local communities and governments receive information in time to implement appropriate mitigation measures.
The new funding has been granted in addition to US$3.9 million provided by Japan last year to advance the MRC’s flood and drought forecasting systems. As a longstanding development partner of the MRC, Japan has since 2001 granted over USD21 million to support flood and drought management, irrigation, climate change, and environmental management.
“This additional funding should enable the MRC to provide more accurate and efficient river monitoring and forecasting services to the public and its Member Countries” said Mr Keizo Takewaka, Japanese Ambassador to Lao PDR, at the signing ceremony on 26 February.
Japan is one of a dozen Development Partners supporting implementation of the MRC’s new Strategic Plan. As a key tool to implementing a new Basin-wide Development Strategy 2021–2030, this five-year plan will enable the four Member Countries to maintain the ecological functions of the river and strengthen resilience against disasters.