Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mekong body risks losing funds: donors

Mekong body risks losing funds: donors

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A man fishes near the proposed Don Sahong hydropower project site in the Siphandone area of southern Laos in 2012. INTERNATIONAL RIVERS

Mekong body risks losing funds: donors

The Mekong River Commission must “urgently” clarify how it will restructure and fund itself in the future or risk donors pulling out, development partners said yesterday, as it emerged funding for the intergovernmental body would likely be “much lower” than the MRC had anticipated.

Following three days of meetings in the Laotian capital, Vientiane, the MRC’s development partners released a joint statement calling for more information on “critical” reforms to its governing bodies.

The statement – endorsed by Australia, the European Union, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, Switzerland and the United States, among others – comes less than a week after the MRC referred Laos’ controversial Don Sahong dam to national governments after talks through the body failed.

With six months of strategic planning left for the next funding cycle, donors’ chief concerns surround uncertainty over the future of the MRC’s leadership, organisational structure, staffing, funding arrangements and the cost-sharing formula between member countries.

“Without clarity on these issues as a matter of urgency, many development partners will not be in a position to provide funding for 2016-2020,” the statement said.

As the body seeks to finalise its planning for the coming years, the donor statement questioned how the committee would handle a foreseen downsizing as MRC programs wind up this year, saying “managing staff transition has become critical”.

“There is a high level of uncertainty among staff, with many staff operating without contracts, and an unclear process for hiring under the future structure,” it reads.

The statement also recommended the MRC prioritise its outcomes and suggest alternative plans as donors’ current combined funding of about $33 million was “much lower” than the amount assumed in the plan.

An update on the MRC’s review of its prior consultation process was also called for, in light of “challenges” raised by the proposed Don Sahong dam, which, although opposed by Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, is being pushed by Laos.

It also suggested tributary projects, such as the planned Lower Sesan 2 project in Stung Treng province, also go through prior consultation, currently only a requirement for mainstream Mekong dams.

MOST VIEWED

  • Research key to Kanitha’s rep for expertise

    Sok Kanitha is used to weighing in on controversial issues using a confident approach that signals expertise and authority, and a recent video she made was no exception. Her “Episode 342: The History of NATO” video went live on January 16, 2023 and immediately shot to 30,000 likes and 3,500

  • Cambodia maintains 'Kun Khmer' stance despite Thailand’s boycott threat

    Cambodia has taken the position that it will use the term "Kun Khmer" to refer to the sport of kickboxing at the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, and has removed the term Muay from all references to the sport. Despite strong reactions from the Thai

  • Knockout! Kun Khmer replaces ‘Muay’ for Phnom Penh Games

    Cambodia has decided to officially remove the word Muay from the programme of the 32nd Southeast Asian (SEA) Games 2023 in May. “Kun Khmer” will instead be used to represent the Southeast Asian sport of kickboxing, in accordance with the wishes of the Cambodian people. Vath

  • Artificial insemination takes herd from 7 to 700

    Some farms breed local cows or even import bulls from a broad for the purpose of breeding heavier livestock for meat production. One Tbong Khnum farmer has found a more efficient way. Hout Leang employs artificial insemination to fertilise local cows. Thanks to imported “straws”

  • New int’l airport nearly half complete as travel industry returns to life

    Construction of a new airport that is slated to serve the capital has passed the 43 per cent completion mark, raising prospects for a proper recovery in the civil aviation and tourism sectors as international travellers return to the Kingdom in increasingly large numbers. The figure

  • Chinese group tours return to Cambodia starting Feb 6

    Cambodia is among 20 countries selected by Beijing for a pilot programme allowing travel agencies to provide international group tours as well as flight and hotel packages to Chinese citizens, following a three-year ban. As the days tick down until the programme kicks off on February 6,