A senior Cambodian official has highlighted the extensive sharing of information that takes place between the four member states of the Mekong River Commission (MRC), while noting the progressive information-sharing with China, a dialogue partner of the commission. 

“There is substantial information sharing about the Mekong River among the four member states. There is no lack of information,” Cambodia National Mekong Committee (CNMC) deputy secretary-general Kol Vathana told The Post. 

“The MRC secretariat supplies the CNMC with the information it requests, although obviously not information that has not been produced yet. Some data must be generated through time-consuming, collection, processed and frequently updated,” he explained.

The four MRC member states are Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. 

Vathana said because China is not a signatory state of the 1995 Mekong agreement but a dialogue partner, its sharing of information with the MRC member countries is not obligatory, but based on the spirit of cooperation. 

“China has upgraded the level of information it provides to us. It used to share data collected from one monitoring station during the dry season, but it has now added a second station.

“Our collaboration with China is progressive, while the four MRC member countries share substantial amounts of data with each other,” he said. 

Vathana highlighted the importance of data sharing, particularly to provide advance warning of unexpected changes or abnormal conditions. 

“As we know water flows from the upper river to us. When we have real-time data, we can prepare ourselves for any emergencies,” he said.

MRC Secretariat chief executive officer Anoulak Kittikhoun said during the 12 June Regional Stakeholder Forum in Vientiane, Laos that the MRC member countries have agreed to share more data and information from the operations of hydropower projects.

“This is quite a breakthrough. Next month, this will be formalised. This is actually a first for the MRC cooperation. 

“We are also working with China to do the same. China already shares a lot of information with us, from only the flood season to the dry season from two monitoring stations below the Jinghong Dam. But we would like more cooperation,” he said while addressing a question from a Cambodian participant from the Rattanakiri province community. 

One of the forum’s highlights was a presentation on design changes by dam developers for the Pak Beng, Pak Lai, and Don Sahong hydropower projects, located in Laos. These changes aim to enhance sediment management transport and improve fish migration. 

“Significant progress has been made in addressing the MRC’s recommendations, which were formulated after extensive discussions with the countries and stakeholders,” the MRC secretariat said, in a June 14 press release.