MRC Transboundary Dialogue, Issue 11
IWRMP's quarterly eNewsletter tells stories on the transboundary water resources management initiatives.
Issue 11: October - December 2017
As part of the efforts to consolidate lessons learned on community-based water management, the Lao and Thai working groups of the Xe Bang Hieng and Nam Kam wetland project recently met to discuss integrated water resources management (IWRM) tools currently applied in local water resources management and identify ways to further mainstream those tools in community-based river basin planning.
The IWRM tools discussed at the meeting held on 13 December in Savannakhet of Lao PDR include enabling environment that promotes effective water policy and legal framework; clear institutional roles that determine responsibilities of relevant stakeholders - from governments to river basin organisations to water user groups - in managing the resources and setting up institutions; and practical management instruments that support better river basin planning through assessment of current water situation, integrated planning and communications among water use sectors and stakeholders.
“Thailand and Laos will need to select the IWRM tools to fit with their purpose, which will enable them to manage their water resources in integrated ways that promote equitable sharing of water resources while protecting the environment,” said Piriya Uraiwong, MRC’s water resources management specialist.
The Xe Bang Hieng basin of Lao PDR and Nam Kam basin of Thailand are rich in wetlands resources, including surface water resources and wetlands, which support the livelihoods of local populations. Both basins, meanwhile, face similar challenges threatening the resources such as increasing demand for water utilization and climate change.
Through the MRC-supported wetland project, the two countries have been working together to share knowledge, experience and good practices in managing wetlands resources to maximise economic benefits.
At the meeting, the project team also discussed progress and challenges facing the project’s implementation. They planned to meet again in February to finalise a joint report capturing knowledge and lessons learned on specific IWRM tools that can be applied in future planning and development of the river basins.
The wetland project is one of five bilateral projects financed by the World Bank through the MRC’s Mekong IWRM Project that facilitates multi-sectoral planning and management of water resources through transboundary dialogue.
The five bilateral projects are coordinated by each member country’s National Mekong Committee (NMC), which takes an active role in facilitating the work of line agencies and local working groups for the execution of those projects.
Here’s a brief report from the four NMCs.
In an effort to address the shared water management issues with Viet Nam, the Cambodian teams of the Mekong Delta and the Sesan - Srepok river basins projects met on 21 December to discuss key elements for the establishment of the national coordination mechanisms for sharing data and information with the Vietnamese counterpart.
They reviewed existing schemes suitable for adapting into a new mechanism framework, types of data to be shared and roles of government bodies at provincial level. The team agreed that governing authority be devolved down from the center to lower levels, which will promote better sharing of information for addressing water issues in a timely manner.
Meanwhile, the Tonle Sap Lake team of the sister-lake communications project on 18 December kicked off a field survey with fishers at Battambang’s Rahasourng village, provincial departments and non-governmental organisations to gather information on their livelihoods and involvement in water governance and planning for the development of a joint report with the Thai counterpart.
In addition, from 15-18 November, the working group of the Mekong-Sekong fisheries project, in partnership with the Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute and the Fisheries Administration, held a series of discussions with provincial government agencies, local authorities and fishery communities in Stung Treng province to collect data on existing rules and regulations on transboundary fisheries management in the Mekong-Sekong river basins, identify constraints hindering cooperation with Lao PDR and discuss possible solutions. This is part of the preparation of the joint coordination mechanisms for managing fisheries resources in selected provinces bordering with Lao PDR.
The Lao team of the Xe Bang Hieng-Nam Kam wetlands project on 11 December opened a two-day capacity building workshop on IWRM tools for 30 members from the Mak Mee reservoir’s working group in Savannakhet province.
The training strengthened their understanding on policies and legal framework, institutional roles and responsibility of relevant stakeholders and management instruments for local water resources management.
Meanwhile, on 10 October, the Mekong-Sekong fisheries project team met with local authorities and communities’ representatives in Attapeu province to discuss a draft guideline for the development of fisheries management plan. They also exchanged views and lessons on fisheries management and fish conservation zones.
Following a series of workshops to analyse data and information on fisheries resources for updating the fisheries database, the Xe Bang Hieng-Nam Kam wetlands project team on 28 November organised a workshop to integrate the collected data into relevant development plans of provincial agencies by applying IWRM tools such as GIS for presenting project’s locations and interpreting information.
In addition, the team on 12 October held a meeting with the working group to review project’s achievements, progress and remaining activities to be carried out. The meeting was attended by 40 participants in Sakon Nakhon province.
Also in October, the climate change adaptation working group of the Songkhla-Tonle Sap lakes project organised a youth camp for 48 youths from Phattalung province, which lies within the Songkhla Lake Basin. The group visited flood-prone areas in Kuan Kreng wetland where they learned about bio-diversified ecosystem and climate change issues.
They were trained to produce video stories by using smartphones to convey messages related to climate change and natural resources preservation. The youth camp is part of the training workshops aimed at strengthening youth’s capacity in producing and disseminating news and information on lake management to the public.
The Vietnamese teams of the Mekong Delta and the Sesan-Srepok river basins projects from 26 to 29 December held back-to-back consultation workshops on the joint coordination mechanisms for water resources management in the concerned areas of Cambodia and Viet Nam with relevant stakeholders from provincial departments of agriculture, natural resources, construction and transportation, and hydropower plants.
Held in Ho Chi Minh City, the workshops discussed mechanisms for sharing information and data on water flows proposed by national experts, in consultation with local authorities and communities.
The consultations followed a series of working sessions organised between October and November in various provinces of the delta for local, provincial and national stakeholders to review the current transboundary cooperation mechanisms between Cambodia and Viet Nam in the Mekong Delta and Sesan-Srepok river basins, and discuss new cooperation approaches proposed for the joint coordination mechanisms.
Recommendations from participants were consolidated for further improvement of the joint coordination papers.
In addition, on 17 November, the teams met with provincial authorities from relevant departments to debrief water management issues observed during the joint Mekong Delta field trips between Cambodia and Viet Nam conducted in late October. They also discussed data and information sharing mechanisms proposed by the Cambodian counterpart.