The Mekong River Commission and the Lancang-Mekong Water Resources Cooperation Center have signed a memorandum of understanding to improve the management of the Mekong river.
As part of the agreement, both organisations will research on drought and low flow scenarios in the lower and upper Mekong River basin.
The MoU was signed by An Pich Hatda, the MRC Secretariat’s CEO, and Zhong Yong, the Lancang-Mekong Water Center secretary-general. It was signed at a meeting of the Lancang-Mekong Water Resource Cooperation in Beijing, China.
According to a statement by the MRC, during the next five years, both parties will work together on the development and management of water and related resources, jointly promoting the sustainable social and economic development of the Mekong countries – Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and China.
“These technical areas of collaboration include experience sharing, data and information exchange, basin monitoring, joint assessment and study, knowledge management and associated skills building and training,” the MRC said.
As an initial step, from January to September next year, both sides agreed to conduct joint research to identify the cause and impact of the 2019 drought and low-flow situation in the Mekong River basin that affected the lower and upper parts.
“Informed by the findings, the study will improve the situation among all the riparian countries, develop a clear communication protocol, and enhance coordinated operations of the reservoirs in both China and Mekong countries for a more effective response to the current and future issues of drought and water flow,” the MRC said.
Mr Pich Hatda said the MoU represents a joint and concerted effort to uplift the cooperation between China and the lower Mekong countries.
“This MoU was signed to ensure effective upper and lower Mekong river basin management for future sustainability and shared benefits,” he said.
Mr Yong said the agreement will bring the parties closer and create synergies in regional water resources cooperation.
“It will help us improve livelihoods and foster socio-economic development in the Lancang-Mekong river basin,” he said.
According to recent MRC’s water flow monitoring results, the 2019 drought has caused the Mekong water levels to drop to their lowest points in living memory. Most regions of the river basins have been experiencing significant low water flow since June, and some areas have acquired an aquamarine colour due to lower river levels and increasing amounts of algae.
The government last month issued a directive advising the relevant ministries and institutions to take action to conserve water so that it is available during the dry season. The government also urged farmers to cultivate dry-season rice only once, arguing that the Kingdom will experience extremely hot weather and the rainy season may arrive late.