Mekong River Data Sharing Key to Impact Measurement

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Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology Lim Kean Hor has requested that Mekong River water data be shared to accurately measure the river’s impact on the region’s social and economic well-being.

The request came as he met with Mekong River Commission (MRC) CEO Anoulak Kittikhoun on March 2 while he was visiting Cambodia and Vietnam to speak face-to-face with senior officials about cooperation with the Mekong.

According to the MRC’s March 14 press release, Kean Hor articulated the need to monitor and share more hydrological data to accurately assess how low or high water flows are affecting the region’s socioeconomic well-being.

To give a clearer picture, China started sharing its dry season data in 2020.

“With more data, we can identify clear trends over time, anticipate future patterns, and implement an effective early warning system. With a shared understanding, we can take more impactful short- and medium-term actions,” Kean Hor said in the release.

Alongside a desire to deepen regional and international partnership, a key priority is to scale up efforts to monitor and measure how economic development, water infrastructure projects and climate change – including increases in floods and droughts – are affecting the will affect many millions of people living in the lower Mekong River Basin, the press release said.

To better protect Southeast Asia’s largest waterway, the MRC is now making the rounds in the region to hear directly from member countries about their priorities – and specifically, to minimize the growing threats to lives and livelihoods.

Anoulak, the MRC’s first Laotian CEO, said: “These open discussions will help me implement a more impactful basin work program that aligns closely with regional and national priorities. We must innovate as the MRC evolves into a strong regional player equipped with modern technology and knowledge to provide timely services to the countries and their peoples,” Anoulak said.

The MRC consists of the four countries that benefit directly from Mekong-related developments – Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam – as well as a special status for the two northern neighbors upriver, China and Myanmar. Each of the six has their own national interests, specific priorities and unique challenges, making working together complex but rewarding.

Ro Vannak, co-founder of the Cambodian Institute for Democracy, told the Post March 14 that the Mekong River is at the heart of Southeast Asia’s political geography in the US-China rivalry. The Mekong became the center of superpower strategies due to economic and geopolitical factors.

“Most important is the importance of the growth of the Mekong region and its geographical location – alongside the geopolitical hotspots of the South China Sea and the Malacca Straits,” he said.

“China’s growing activities in the region mean we know that the Mekong has become a contentious interface between the West and China, which compete to influence countries along its banks for mutual benefit,” Vannak added.

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