The German government has provided an additional €2 million ($2.2 million) to the Mekong River Commission (MRC) to enhance transnational water resource cooperation and support, and assist in efforts to monitor the transnational environmental impact of dams.
The funding agreement was signed by MRC Secretariat CEO An Pich Hatda and German Ambassador to Laos Jens Lutkenherm in Vientiane on Friday.
The fund aims to foster dialogue and cooperation on the planning and management of transboundary water resources among the countries of the Lower Mekong, the MRC said on Friday.
“This extra funding has brought the German contribution to the MRC to €6.45 million for the current strategic plan 2016-2020 and the beginning of the new plan 2021-2025.
“The funding aims to boost dialogue and cooperation on transboundary water resource planning and management among the four lower Mekong countries – Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam,” it said
According to the MRC’s latest flow data, the drought this year has caused the river’s water levels to be their lowest in the past 60 years. Most areas along the Mekong basin have been experiencing significant low water flow since June.
Germany’s support comes at a critical time, with countries along the Mekong facing difficult trade-offs between increasing development in energy, transport and agriculture, and their impact on the environment and the livelihoods of local people, Pich Hatda said.
“These emerging issues require meticulous and speedy monitoring and reporting for proper basin management. Thanks to Germany for making the work possible,” he said.
Pich Hatda told The Post on Sunday of activities to increase cooperation and dialogue in Cambodia through the grant.
“One of the primary areas is through joint transboundary cooperation for flood and drought management project in the Cambodian-Thai border area, including Cambodia’s Banteay Meanchey, Battambong and Pailin provinces, and Sa Kaeo and Chonburi provinces in Thailand.
“Through this project, Cambodia and Thailand will be able to increase the capacity of transboundary integrated water resources planning and the forecasting of floods and drought, as well as associated information services, including early warnings of risks in the context of changing hydroclimatic conditions.
The project will also help improve water security, including measures against floods and droughts, to support economic and social development in the project area,” Pich Hatda said.
As the Mekong comes under pressure from the impact of water management projects for irrigation, hydropower and the supply of water, the MRC’s work would be even more important in monitoring and managing changes along the river basin, Lutkenherm said.
“Our additional grant should allow the MRC to fast-track work on assessing such impacts and ensure that decision-makers along the Mekong basin are aware of the consequences and take timely and appropriate action,” he said.
The MRC last month warned that severe drought has been predicted to last until January in countries along the Mekong, with Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand expected to be the hardest hit.