Senior officials from the six Mekong countries have approved key recommendations to improve information sharing and coordination for water management in the region.

The accord was finalised during a meeting between the Mekong River Commission (MRC) and the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) member states – Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and China – in the Chinese capital Beijing on September 10.

The gathering also resulted in the establishment of a joint group tasked with overseeing additional studies and initiating a Mekong-Lancang survey. The project aims to conduct essential fieldwork at critical points across the upper and lower basin and study the impact on local residents.

“This is a positive development for both the river and its communities,” said Anoulak Kittikhoun, CEO of the MRC secretariat who led the meeting.

“We can now concentrate on executing the proposals for the benefit of the area’s residents,” he said.

One immediate focus is to facilitate near real-time sharing of data related to storage levels and hydropower operations across the region. According to an MRC press release, this would enable the downstream populace to prepare for and adapt to changes in water levels.

Both organisations were identified as optimal platforms for notifying communities about unusual water releases and restrictions. Long-term directives include the creation of comprehensive flood and drought management plans, as well as capacity-building initiatives.

The joint study, initiated in June last year during the 12th MRC Regional Stakeholder Forum (RSF), seeks to understand changing hydrological patterns in the region and to identify practical adaptation strategies. Its initial findings will be presented at the 13th RSF on October 5 in Luang Prabang, Laos. Attendees are encouraged to contribute data and focus areas for the study’s second phase.