Data and information exchange, basin-wide monitoring, and joint assessment on Mekong water and related resources are among the main areas to benefit from a new partnership between the Mekong River Commission Secretariat (MRCS) and Lancang-Mekong Water Resources Cooperation Center (LMC Water Center).
The technical collaboration between the MRCS and LMC Water Center was materialized as the two bodies reached an agreement to officially institute their ties.
A memorandum of understanding was signed by Dr. An Pich Hatda, the MRC Secretariat’s Chief Executive Officer and Dr. Zhong Yong, the LMC Water Center Secretary General, at the Ministerial Meeting of the Lancang-Mekong Water Resources Cooperation in Beijing in attendance of the water and environment ministers of the six Lancang-Mekong countries.
“The MOU represents our joint and concerted efforts to uplift the cooperation between China and the lower Mekong countries as we seek to ensure effective upper and lower Mekong river basin management for future sustainability and shared benefits,” Dr. Hatda said.
Over the next five years, both parties will work together through water and related resources development and management so as to jointly promote sustainable social and economic development of the Mekong countries.
These technical areas of collaboration include experience sharing, data and information exchange, basin monitoring, joint assessment and study, knowledge management, and associated skill building and training.
“I believe this MOU will bring our Center and the MRC Secretariat much closer and create synergy in regional water resources cooperation,” Dr. Zhong said. “It will help us to contribute to livelihood improvement and better socio-economic development in the Lancang-Mekong River basin.”
As an initial step, both sides agreed to conduct a joint research on the 2019 drought and low flow situation in the Mekong River basin that covers both the lower and the upper part in China where Mekong is known as Lancang.
The joint research, which is planned to begin in January and finish by September 2020, aims to identify the causes and impacts of drought and low flow condition in 2019.
Informed by the findings, the study will also provide recommended measures and actions related to data and information sharing and improvement among all the riparian countries, develop a clear communication protocol, and enhance coordinated operations of the reservoirs in both China and the Mekong countries for a more effective response to the current and future issues of drought and water flow.
According to the latest MRC’s flow monitoring, the 2019 drought has brought the Mekong water levels to their lowest points in living memory or at least over the last 60 years, with most parts of the basin having experienced an exceptionally regional low flow since June.
This regional low flow, slow drop in the river sediments, and presence of algae on the sand and bedrock river bottom, it added, are among the contributing factors that have changed some parts of the Mekong River from its typical brown color to an aquamarine hue.