Mekong River Commission Approves Revamped River Monitoring Network

Water and environment ministers from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam have approved a redesigned network for collecting scientific data and tracking areas like hydrology, water quality, discharge, sediment, fisheries and ecological health across the Lower Mekong Basin.

In a statement released in Vientiane Monday, the secretariat of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) said it had identified “various inefficiencies” in its core river monitoring network.

These included “a lack of regional and national network integration, leading to redundancies and indirect use of most monitoring data,” the statement said.

Other issues were concerns over human and technical capabilities, reliability and capacity of systems, the costs of updating equipment, and “ineffective alignment and integration” among monitoring stations.

The redesigned network “strives to not only ameliorate these issues, but addresses the spectrum of transboundary riverine-related challenges – one that transitions the MRC from a silo monitoring to an integrated system,” the statement said.

Ministers approved the redesign on Wednesday last week during a meeting of the MRC Council in the Vietnamese city of Vung Tau.

The statement said the council also approved a work plan for 2023 to 2024 to maintain the Mekong’s ecological functions and enable “inclusive access and use” of its water and related resources.

The plan also aims to enhance optimal, sustainable development of the water and related sectors, strengthen resilience against climate risks, and boost cooperation among all MRC countries and stakeholders.

Vietnamese Natural Resources Minister Dr Tran Hong Ha — the current chair of the MRC Council — said the work plan would “kick-start the second important phase” of a strategic plan for 2021 to 2025.

MRC Secretariat Chief Executive Officer Dr. Anoulak Kittikhoun highlighted the “sheer passion and love for our organisation, knowing the great challenges the Mekong is facing and the little time we have.”

The statement said the meeting also discussed plans for an MRC Summit in Vientiane in April next year, when the MRC Council will be chaired by Cambodian Water Resources and Meteorology Water H.E. Lim Kean Hor.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press