The Australian government last week provided a grant of about $300,000 to help the Mekong River Commission upgrade its data, modelling and information systems to provide enhanced and timely information to the public in MRC member countries.
MRC member countries are Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
According to a letter from the Australian Embassy in Vientiane to the MRC Secretariat, the grant, to be made available by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, will be in the form of technical assistance and will be implemented and managed by eWater, an Australian Government-owned non-profit organization, from now until December 2020.
Australian Ambassador to Laos Jean-Bernard Carrasco said in the letter that this support further demonstrates Australia’s ongoing commitment to the MRC’s work, in recognition of its role as the primary platform for technical water cooperation in the Mekong region.
According to MRC’s media release, the initiative to upgrade its data and information system, recently endorsed by the MRC’s Joint Committee at its 48th Meeting in Vietnam’s Vung Tau city, will cover a wide range of areas.
These include integrated database and data management systems, data quality control and assurance process, document management system, modelling tools, and river monitoring and forecasting information and communication.
MRC Secretariat Chief Executive Officer An Pich Hatda said the main purpose for the upgrade is to provide faster reactions to address emerging changes, such as climate change or sudden water release from reservoirs in the Lancang-Mekong river basin, track basin state and development, and strengthen one of the MRC’s key roles as the regional knowledge hub.
He added that the initiative would have multi-development partner support and cooperation and that MRC welcomes any form of assistance, be it financial or technical.
“Our team and experts from eWater are assessing the current situation and available in-house data and information. By the end of the year, a detailed analysis and design concept will be ready for discussion and endorsement by our Joint Committee prior to implementation and for soliciting support from Development Partners,” Mr Hatda said.
Australia has been one of the long-term Development Partners of the MRC since the commission’s creation in 1995 and has provided more than $27 million in funding.
Its continuous support for the MRC’s ongoing strategic work, together with support from other Development Partners, will strengthen the MRC’s profile as the region’s only treaty-based river basin organization that supports sustainable management and development of shared water resources for the four countries’ mutual benefit and the well-being of over 65 million people living in the lower Mekong basin.