MRC Transboundary Dialogue, Issue 8
IWRMP's quarterly eNewsletter tells stories on the transboundary water resources management initiatives.
Issue 8: January - April 2017
PNPCA is one of the five procedural rules at the heart of the MRC mandate, aimed at promoting water cooperation among the four member countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. Under the PNPCA, any projects using water from the Mekong basin, including large-scale irrigation and hydropower, must undergo either one of the three processes to prevent possible adverse transboundary impacts on riverine communities and the upstream and downstream environment.
Communication of the PNPCA processes requires effective dissemination tools.
With support from the World Bank, the PNPCA brochure has been printed in the four riparian languages, on top of the English version. Using plain languages and visual aids, it describes what PNPCA is about, how it is applied, and how the processes take place.
“It is the first time for the MRC’s member countries and other interested stakeholders to have a simplified form of the PNPCA,” said An Pich Hatda, MRC’s Director of Planning Division. “It provides key information of the complex rules in an easily digestible manner for those who want to better understand how the procedures support regional cooperation on water use.”
More than 1,000 brochures have been disseminated to different stakeholders at both regional and national levels. Online editions are available on the MRC website.
Other knowledge products to be produced in English and riparian languages include the MRC’s procedural rules on water quality, data sharing and water flow maintenance.
The MRC has so far facilitated discussions on two hydropower projects on the Mekong mainstream – Xayaburi and Don Sahong– through the PNPCA. It is now carrying out the Prior Consultation process for the Pak Beng hydropower project.
Officials from the National Mekong Committees of Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam met at a management support meeting in Vientiane, Lao PDR, from 6 to 8 February, to review implementation progress of five bilateral projects aimed at improving water resources management in the Lower Mekong Basin. Cambodia joined the meeting through a video conference.
Organised by the MRC Secretariat, the three-day meeting discussed the status of the projects, including major milestones and achievements, budget utilisation, and challenges. It also deliberated on the way forward and action plans to be implemented in 2017.
“The meeting provides an opportunity to ensure that the implementation progress meets with the agreed intermediate results and to identify areas of concern and issues that require technical support from the MRC Secretariat,” said Piriya Uraiwong, MRC’s Specialist for the Mekong-Integrated Water Resources Management Project (M-IWRMP).
Funded by the World Bank under the MRC’s M-IWRMP, the five projects include fisheries management, water resources management, wetland and floodplain management, and communication outreach projects. These projects have been implemented by the four lower Mekong countries on a bilateral basis since 2013 and 2014 to address transboundary challenges for better management of water and related resources and improved livelihoods.
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.
The Cambodian working groups of the Mekong Delta and Sesan-Srepok transboundary projects in late February kicked off data collection at the sub national level in Stung Treng, Ratanaki and Mondulkiri provinces located in the Sesan-Srepok sub-basins, and the Mekong Delta’s provinces of Kandal, Takeo and Prey Veng. The data collection aimed to identify coordination mechanisms needed to address transboundary water management issues between Cambodia and Viet Nam. The data will be used as input for preparation of a national coordination mechanism paper for each project.
In addition, a sub-national consultation workshop was organised in early March to assess issues facing the existing coordination mechanisms and identify possible solutions for better management of water and related resources in the Mekong Delta.
Meanwhile, the Tonle Sap-Songkhla lakes communication outreach project on 7 March organised a capacity building workshop to promote understanding of the integrated water resources management (IWRM) approaches for healthy lake governance, in Pursat, Cambodia. Thirty-five participants representing national, provincial and community levels from the Tonle Sap Lake discussed issues affecting the management of Tonle Sap and IWRM-based tools to address those issues.
In addition, the project team earlier organised a public awareness event on the importance of natural resources, fisheries law and regulations, and lake management structure. It was attended by 170 people from Tonle Sap’s Sdei Krom village of Tonle Sap.
The Laotian working group from the Xe Bang Hieng – Nam Kam wetlands project and local authorities in late January agreed to establish a steering committee for better management of the Mak Mee wetland located in Sovannakhet province of Lao PDR. The committee will work with Champhone District’s Office of Natural Resources and Environment to develop rules and regulations to manage the wetland area, which provides rich ecosystems to support local livelihoods. The team will meet again in late April to discuss core components of the rules and regulations.
The Thai team of the Xe Bang Hieng – Nam Kam wetlands project from late January to late March organised a series of workshops on data and information analysis at six pilot sites in Thailand’s Nakhon Phanom and Sakon Nakhon provinces. Attended by 300 participants altogether, the workshops analysed data on fisheries resources and assessed risk factors related to the management of the resources. The workshops also enhanced the capacity of the sub-district working group members to apply information for updating the fisheries database.
Meanwhile, the fisheries working group of the Tonle Sap-Songkhla project, in collaboration with local schools and research institutes, in early January, released four million of giant freshwater prawns and fish species into the Tahin aquatic fauna conservation zone of the Songkhla Lake. The team releases fish species five times per year, contributing to the increase of fish stock in the lake and the improvement of livelihoods.
In addition, with support from the Taksin University, the Chong Fuen women working group for fisheries organised a workshop in Phathalung to boost households’ income through increased production of fishery products. Twenty-five villagers from Ban Chong Fuen learned how to make organic shrimp chips from Songkhla’s yellow shrimps.
The Vietnamese teams of the Sesan-Srepok sub-basins and the Mekong Delta water resources management projects in February met with government agencies and research institutes in Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh cities and some provinces to collect data and information needed for the development of coordination mechanisms aimed at addressing joint transboundary water management issues between Cambodia and Viet Nam. The data and information collection was conducted based on questionnaires jointly developed by the National Mekong Committees of Cambodia and Viet Nam, with support from the MRC Secretariat.
In addition, the project teams also reviewed existing coordination mechanisms, both at national and provincial levels, for improving cooperation between Viet Nam and Cambodia on water resources management in the projects’ targeted areas and beyond.