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US splashes $770K for Mekong management, data sharing

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Fishing boats on the Mekong river near Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Heng Chivoan

US splashes $770K for Mekong management, data sharing

The US Department of State has awarded the Mekong River Commission (MRC) a grant of $773,570 to enhance data collection and sharing for collaborative water management in the Mekong River Basin and continued exchanges with the Mississippi River Commission.

The Mississippi River Commission is a US government agency tasked with researching and recommending policy and work programmes covering areas such as flood management, navigation and environmental protection.

The grant was confirmed on December 3 at a virtual meeting between the two river commissions, the MRC said in a statement on December 9.

“The support, provided under the framework of the Mekong-US Partnership, will run for a period of three years from 2021 to 2024. The grant directly backs key activities of the Basin Development Strategy 2021-2030 and the MRC Strategic plan 2021-2025,” it said.

The MRC said the funding “will support disaggregated data collection and mapping on gender and vulnerability, including riverine communities to improve basin planning and operations, as well as early warning systems”.

It added that with “modern technology, including remote sensing products and datasets for basin planning and operations”, this assistance will be instrumental in facilitating “information sharing and communication between countries as they relate to water-related emergencies, including water quality, navigation and dam safety”.

Christine Dawson, director of the state department’s Office of Conservation and Water said in the statement that the US “is pleased to support the MRC in promoting and improving transparent water data sharing”.

“Although small, this grant will provide strategic support to the important work of the MRC in the Mekong and wider region,” she said.

Mississippi River Commission president Major General Diana Holland acknowledges the MRC as a “technically advanced world-class” international river basin organisation that serves the Mekong nations, according to the statement.

Given the MRC’s “history and standing in the international community, the Mississippi River Commission sees you as an equal partner in the Sister River Partnership”, she was quoted as saying.

“The Mississippi River Commission believes that we have much to offer, and we are anxious to learn from you.”

MRC Secretariat CEO An Pich Hatda said in the statement: “We have a common mission and shared commitment to promote sustainable development and management of the Mekong River that is confronted with increasing risks from climate change, extreme floods, droughts and development activities.”

The MRC said it earlier this year joined the US-led “Friends of the Mekong” group, which counts the Metro Manila-based Asian Development Bank, Australia, Cambodia, the EU, Japan, Laos, Myanmar, New Zealand, South Korea, Thailand, the US, Vietnam and the Washington-headquartered World Bank among its ranks.

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