The Japanese government has pledged its continued support for the Mekong River Commission’s ongoing efforts to improve irrigation facilities under a four-year $1.4 million project involving Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
An MRC press release issued on Monday said Japan’s commitment was made during a meeting between representatives of its Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and MRC CEO Pham Tuan Phan in Vientiane last week.
The press release said Japan supports focus on improving schemes which promote fish passage at irrigation facilities, monitoring agricultural land use changes, improving the MRC’s irrigation database, and sustainable groundwater use and management for crop production across the lower basin.
Mr Tuan Phan said the demonstration of support from Japan would help the implementation of the irrigation system project to be more effective, reduce environmental impacts and improve living conditions for people.
“This support from the Japanese government will assist the MRC to bring about more efficient practices on irrigation planning and better promote our efforts to improve livelihoods and mitigate environmental impacts from irrigation in the basin,” he said.
Hidefumi Murashita, deputy director of the Overseas Land Improvement Cooperation Office with Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, said that “poverty reduction through improved irrigation is the key objective”.
“We support MRC in this area because we believe agriculture is an important intervention for reducing poverty,” he added.
The Japanese government is a long-standing development partner of the MRC.
Since 2001, it has granted more than $13 million to support several projects, including those on flood and drought management, irrigation, safe navigation, climate change and environmental management.
The Mekong River Commission Secretariat said in a statement last night that Cambodia will benefit greatly from the project.
“Cambodia can expect to better monitor its agricultural land use in a more effective way,” the statement said. “Through our review and improvement of the existing land use maps in several selected provinces where land is mostly used for agriculture, we will be able to detect land use changes and identify major driving forces of the change and its impacts to local livelihoods.”