The French government donated €1.5 million ($1.82 million) to the Mekong River Commission (MRC) to improve its river monitoring network and better manage water infrastructure projects, according to a press statement released on May 17.
“We hope to strengthen our current systems, making them more efficient, reliable and capable of collecting and transmitting real-time rainfall, water level, and other environmental data to aid responsible development and management of the river,” said MRC Secretariat CEO An Pich Hatda.
MRC said development and climate change had intensified in the region which made forecasting difficult if there is insufficient data on water infrastructure and the way this infrastructure is operated.
MRC funding is provided by the Agence Francaise de Developpement (AFD) for four years from 2021 to 2025. It will also be used to improve MRC and its member countries’ ability to better understand changes to river communities and the environment, especially water quality, sediment and fisheries.
“The funding should allow the MRC to advance the knowledge of the hydrological profile of the Mekong River and its main tributaries and thus create an integrated monitoring system for better management of the river,” said Julie Gabet-Ouahioune, AFD country director for Laos.
MRC said this funding is a follow-up to two other grants of €4 million from France for the hydro-meteorological network project. MRC has established a network of 49 hydro-meteorological stations from 2007 to 2012 and 11 additional stations from 2016–2022 to collect near real-time data of water and rainfall levels. Since 2006, France has granted approximately $12 million to the MRC.