The Government of Japan Friday granted JPY 412 million or approximately US$3.9 million to the Mekong River Commission (MRC) to advance its flood and drought monitoring and forecasting functions.
The funding will be spread over four years from 2020–2023. It is to transform the MRC’s Regional Flood and Drought Management Centre (RFDMC) 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, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam.
Some of the key activities this funding will support are improved public information on flood and drought with the use of advanced technologies, so that local communities and governments are informed in a timely fashion and that damages can be reduced in times of danger.
It will also help to facilitate an integration of flood and drought management functions to provide a longer lead-time and better accuracy of forecasting.
“This grant will enable the MRC to further improve its flood and drought forecasting capability with the aim to continue assisting the Member Countries to effectively tackle flood and drought risks for vulnerable communities,” said Dr. An Pich Hatda, MRC Secretariat Chief Executive Officer, at a signing ceremony held at the Headquarters of the MRC Secretariat in Vientiane, Laos.
The Government of Japan is a longstanding development partner of the MRC. Since 2001, Japan has granted over US$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 RFDMC. It equipped the Centre with necessary facilities and technologies of the time to provide daily flood forecasting and river monitoring to the region.
With the current financial support, Japan believes it will be used to further strengthen MRC’s efforts in flood and drought countermeasures in the lower Mekong River basin that is faced with frequent flood and drought.
“This funding represents the trust and confidence Japan has placed on the MRC in its work to mitigate natural disaster and improve management of water resources in the Mekong River basin,” said Mr. Keizo Takewaka, Ambassador of Japan to Lao PDR, at the signing ceremony on Mar. 13.