The German government today provided an additional 2 million euro ($2.2 million) to the Mekong River Commission (MRC) to increase cross-border water dialogue, cooperation, and support efforts in monitoring trans boundary environmental impacts from Mekong mainstream dams.
The funding agreement was made in a signing ceremony between the MRC Secretariat’s Chief Executive Officer Dr. An Pich Hatda and German Ambassador to Lao PDR Jens Lutkenherm in Vientiane on Friday, according to a press release.
The statement noted that the funding aims to boost dialogue and cooperation on trans boundary water resource planning and management among the four lower Mekong countries – Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The grant is also set to increase efforts in monitoring trans boundary environmental impacts from the already built Mekong mainstream dams – Xayaburi and Don Sahong – and providing measures to reduce the effects through an MRC’s Joint Environmental Monitoring Program.
Dr. Hatda said in the statement that the German support comes at a critical time when the Mekong River is facing difficult trade-offs between increased development in the energy, transport and agriculture sectors and impacts on the environment and local livelihoods.
According to the latest MRC’s flow monitoring, the 2019 drought has brought the Mekong water levels to their lowest points in living memory or at least over the past 60 years. Most parts of the basin have been since June experiencing an exceptionally regionally low flow.
“These emerging issues require meticulous and speedy monitoring and reporting for a proper basin management, thanks to Germany for making the work possible,” Dr. Hatda said.
Ambassador Lutkenherm said in the statement that at a time when the Mekong is increasingly under pressure from impacts of water management projects for irrigation, hydropower and water supply, the work of the MRC in monitoring and managing the basin changes becomes even more critical.
“Our additional grant should allow the MRC to fact-track work on assessing such impacts and ensure that decision makers in the Basin are aware of the consequences and take timely and appropriate actions,” he said.