The Japanese government on Friday granted nearly $4 million to the Mekong River Commission to advance its flood and drought monitoring and forecasting functions.
The $3.9 million grant aid was announced during a signing ceremony between MRC Secretariat Chief Executive Officer An Pich Hatda and Keizo Takewaka, Japan’s Ambassador to Laos, held at the Headquarters of the MRC Secretariat in Vientiane, Laos.
According to an MRC Secretariat statement, the funding will be gradually allocated until 2023.
“It is to transform the MRC’s Regional Flood and Drought Management Centre in Phnom Penh into a centre of excellence in providing faster and more accurate flood and drought forecasting and early warning to the lower Mekong countries – Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.” the statement said.
It noted some of the key activities this funding will support are improved public information on flood and drought through the use of advance technology.
Mr Takewaka said at the ceremony the grant aid represents Japan’s support for the MRC.
“This funding represents the trust and confidence Japan has placed on the MRC in its work to mitigate natural disasters and improve management of water resources in the Mekong River basin,” he said.
The Japanese government is a longstanding development partner of the MRC. Since 2001, Japan has granted over $18 million to support several projects, including those on flood and drought management, irrigation, climate change and environmental management.
In 2004, Japanese funding helped the MRC to construct the Regional Flood Management and Mitigation Centre, the predecessor of today’s RFDMC. It equipped the centre with necessary facilities and technology to provide daily flood forecasting and river monitoring to the region.
In July 2018, the Japanese government pledged its continued support for the MRC’s ongoing efforts to improve irrigation facilities under a four-year $1.4 million project involving Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
According to the MRC Secretariat statement, Japan believes the current financial support will be used to further strengthen MRC’s efforts in flood and drought countermeasures in the lower Mekong River basin which is facing frequent flooding and drought.
“This grant will enable the MRC to further improve its flood and drought forecasting capability with the aim to continue to assist member countries to effectively tackle flood and drought risks for vulnerable communities,” Mr Pich Hatda said.