General

Mekong Countries Need To Take More Proactive Approach To Basin Planning

(KPL) Mekong River Commission has urged lower Mekong countries to put in place a more proactive regional approach to basin planning and management, with an enhanced and systematic information sharing mechanism and robust monitoring of river flow.

MRC said in its annual report the State of the Basin Report 2018 that such action is urgently needed to address basin-wide challenges including rapid population growth, intensified investments in the Mekong, climate changes and natural disasters.

These challenges have tremendous impacts both negatively and positively to the livelihoods and well-being of people in the region.

MRC’s report aims to assess conditions within the basin and the impacts, both positive and negative, that developments and use of the water and related natural resources create.

The apparent permanent modification of mainstream flow regime, substantial reduction in sediment flows due to sediment trapping, continuing loss of wetlands, deterioration of river line habitats, growing pressures on capture fisheries, and limited information sharing on current water development facilities and water use are some of the major challenges facing countries in the Mekong.

We need to address these issues now in order to minimize further environmental harm and protect remaining wetlands and river line habitats before they are gone, while leveraging the benefits of more secure and increased dry season flows and achieving a more optimal and sustainable development of the Mekong basin, said Dr. An Pich Hatda, Chief Executive Officer of the MRC Secretariat.

Close to 70 million people depend on the Mekong as their main food source. In that two-third of the population or more than 40 million people rely on the Mekong fisheries for their livelihoods.

At macro level, the Mekong fisheries sectors alone adds around 18% to the Cambodian GDP and 13% to the Lao GDP and provides more than US$ 5.5 billion to both Thai and Viet Nam GDP.

While the Mekong provides us with impressive economic growth, today, our river is facing an uncertain state, due to accelerating pace of unsustainable growth, together with cumulative impact of climate change. The repercussions of floods alone account for 70 million US dollar annually, said Dr. An Pich Hatda.

Dr. An Pich Hatda also said that it is time for Mekong countries to start giving back to the river, to plan more carefully of what they are doing about the river and to act together in a responsible way, and more concretely than ever before to preserve the spine of the region for the next generation.

Source: Lao News Agency