Data and information are key to sustainable water resources management. Basin monitoring by the MRC and Member Countries generate reliable data and information about the health and condition of the Mekong River system. These data and information are critical for scientific-based analysis, forecasting, and reporting about status, trends, and potential impacts that are of utmost importance for decision-making at regional, national and local levels.

The Lower Mekong River Basin (LMB), however, faces various challenges in regard to information management. The major issues include data and information generation and sharing both within and between countries, and with relevant international/regional organisations and the public.

Data and Information Management

The MRC plays a key role in data collection and analysis related water resources in the LMB. Its transboundary lens on data analysis allows communities at one location on the river to better understand water trends occurring at another, even across borders. It has a long history of over 100 years of data collection, analysis, assessment and modelling covering hydrology, sediment, water quality, fisheries, ecological health, climate change, flood and drought.

According to the MRC Procedural Rules, the Member Countries are required to collect and supply monitoring data, while the MRC Secretariat is tasked with consolidating data, preparing reports and making recommendations. These data are collected through extended monitoring network that includes:  

  • 58 automated telemetry hydro-meteorological stations
  • 139 traditional stations for rainfall or water level monitoring
  • 48 water quality sampling stations
  • 41 active ecology health sampling sites
  • Over 100 fisheries monitoring sites

Data is also made available by the MRC’s upstream Dialogue Partner, China. Social economic data is available from the MRC’s Social Impact Monitoring and Vulnerability Assessment (SIMVA) and from the Member Countries. 

In 2006, the MRC established a regional information system called the MRC-IS as a structured communication and information management system. As custodian of the Mekong data and information, the MRC Secretariat manages the MRC-IS on behalf of the four Member Countries and disseminates data to national forecasting agencies, stakeholders and the public. 

The online gateway to these data is the MRC Data and  Information Service Portal or simply the ‘Data Portal’, which allows users to search, discover and download at least 10,333 datasets, including current and historical hydro-meteorological and climate time-series, spatial maps, atlases, photographs, and sectorial datasets that can be easily searched and filtered. On the Data Portal, for example, visitors can view daily or weekly water levels at various hydrology stations along the Mekong on an interactive map and examine weekly flood situation reports from 2008 onwards on the flood forecasting site. On climate change, the latest interactive climate change atlas allows users to investigate various climate parameters, such as rainfall and mean temperatures, on an interactive map and view the assessment of climate change impacts on various future scenarios. 

Over the years, the MRC has made considerable investments to improve the information system and related assessment, modelling and forecasting tools to provide the Member Countries with more accurate, reliable, and timely data, as well as the information and knowledge needed to make evidence-based decisions. 

The upgraded MRC Information System will strengthen the MRC’s role as a regional knowledge hub, allowing researchers, practitioners and policy makers to access scientific data and easily understand the current trends of the Mekong River Basin and key water issues, while providing opportunities to collaborate with other research institutions and organisations.