Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - MRC unveils plans to balance Mekong basin development



MRC unveils plans to balance Mekong basin development

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Fishing boats on the Mekong River in Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar district in February. Hong Menea

MRC unveils plans to balance Mekong basin development

The Mekong River Commission (MRC) unveiled a new 10-year Basin Development Strategy (BDS) and five-year Strategic Plan (SP) to balance basin development and management to enable Mekong member countries to address emerging challenges and improve the overall state of the basin.

In a press release on April 5, the MRC said BDS 2021-2030 was approved by the governments of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

The strategy focuses on improving the ecological functioning of the Mekong River to maintain a healthy environment and productive communities. It also aims to improve access to and use of water and related resources by Mekong communities to enhance their wellbeing.

The development focus is on sustainability and inclusive economic growth; resilience to climate and disaster risks; and enhanced regional cooperation from a whole-of-basin perspective.

An Pich Hatda, MRC Secretariat chief executive officer, said: “The strategy is aligned with the Mekong governments’ priorities and needs for achieving a stronger and more resilient Mekong River Basin through proactive planning and coordinated management, and thus ensuring a balance between economic development and environmental protection.”

MRC said this new 10-year strategy is based on recent assessments of the significant impacts caused by water and related resource developments and infrastructure up-river, including dams that have changed the flow of water, affecting sediment transport and magnifying bank erosion.

These impacts have in turn led to a decline in the natural fish populations and the degradation of environmental assets and floodplains, with an overall reduction in the cyclical replenishment of the Mekong Delta.

“Climate change has further added to the severity of these impacts, bringing more uncertainties and risks, including frequent droughts and floods,” the MRC statement said.

MRC expects to invest over $60 million over the next five years, of which about 40 per cent of the funds will come from MRC member countries. They will work on making proactive assessments and the identification of new storage options and new water flow and environmental limits.

The will recommend basin-wide joint investment projects that will have multiple benefits for flood management, drought relief, energy security and environmental protection.

Cambodia’s National Mekong Committee (CNMC)’s deputy secretary-general Kol Vathana said on April 6 that the 10-year strategy demonstrates the efforts and attention of the four countries now that weaknesses in the Mekong River have been identified, warranting urgent solutions.

“The preparation of this strategic plan for the river basin is based on past experience through the assessment of weaknesses, the actual situation of the river basin and its water resources. This plan is a good thing,” he said.

Mak Bunthoeun, a coordinator of River Coalition Cambodia at the NGO Forum on Cambodia, supported the launch of the new plan. But he noted that it would require each country to implement the plan fully in order for it to work.

“What we need to look at is whether each country is willing to participate in the implementation of the plan, because it may [be viewed as contrary] to some countries’ interests,” he said, adding that information sharing is what MRC must address now to avoid future unwanted consequences.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting

  • Covid-19 vaccination now obligatory

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 11 issued a sub-decree making Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for individuals unless they have a medical certificate proving they have pre-existing health conditions that prevent them from doing so. «This applies to all members of the armed forces and civil servants