News / Asia

    Experts Warn Climate Change, Dams Threaten Mekong Region

    In this photo taken on Oct. 24, 2010, the Nam Theun 2 dam on the Nam Theun river, a tributary of the Mekong river, in central Laos releases water to the river below. In this photo taken on Oct. 24, 2010, the Nam Theun 2 dam on the Nam Theun river, a tributary of the Mekong river, in central Laos releases water to the river below.
    x
    In this photo taken on Oct. 24, 2010, the Nam Theun 2 dam on the Nam Theun river, a tributary of the Mekong river, in central Laos releases water to the river below.
    In this photo taken on Oct. 24, 2010, the Nam Theun 2 dam on the Nam Theun river, a tributary of the Mekong river, in central Laos releases water to the river below.
    The region of the Mekong Delta faces multiple threats from climate change and impending hydrodams that likely to hurt fisheries, crops and livestock, experts say.

    Changes in temperature and rainfall will increasingly threaten agriculture in the region, according an early release of some findings of the USAID-funded “Mekong Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change.”

    “The Greater Mekong Subregion is one of the most vulnerable regions in the world with respect to climate change and its effects on agriculture production systems, including fisheries,” said Ulrich Apel, an environment researcher for the Global Environment Facility.

    Added to the potential threats of climate change are the many dams planned in Mekong countries, experts said.

    The impact for 60 million people living on the Mekong River “could be disastrous,” said Aviva Imhof, campaigns director for the U.S.-based International Rivers. “By blocking the transport of sediment, the dams will contribute to even greater erosion in the fertile Mekong Delta, which is already threatened by increasing saltwater intrusion as a result of rising sea levels.”

    The combined threats of dams and climate change could severely damage fish stocks, impacting food security for many people living along the river, particularly Cambodians, according to Zachary Dubel, a researcher at the Stimson Center.

    “The Mekong River is the world’s most productive freshwater fishery, but it is being stressed by overfishing and fast population growth that looks to increase significantly over the coming decades,” he told VOA Khmer.

    Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam rely heavily on the Mekong River, and these countries spend millions of dollars annually to protect areas of the river. But experts warn they most find common solutions to the impending problems.

    The Global Environment Facility committed $92 million for a four-year project that ends in 2014, aiming to mitigate the impacts of climate change, conserve biodiversity in the region and fight land degradation, Apel said.

    But it is up to the Mekong countries themselves to “work together to tackle these issues,” he said.

    Climate change is a “transboundary” problem that requires a transboundary solution, Dubel said. The Mekong River must be viewed similarly, he said. “As a river that runs through six countries and provides a great number of environmental services to millions of people, it is vital that the river be managed collectively. That includes information sharing, as well as coordinated policies.

    He added that currently it is not happening, and a number of dam projects are being developed by various companies with insufficient coordination. 

    “Lack of cooperation on mainstream hydropower in the present has already created tension between upstream and downstream countries that threatens regional relations at a time when multilateral cooperation on issues, such as adaptation to climate change, is extremely important,” he said. “Furthermore, those dams that have been built already require increased coordination between themselves in order to effectively manage flows between them, particularly in light of the increased rainfall the region will receive in the future and threat of floods.”

    Long-range and comprehensive impact assessments are needed before such dams are built, he said.

    International River’s Aviva urged Mekong governments to reconsider the dams. Countries of the region need to make sure they are taking on “no-regrets” measures to ensure their economies are “as climate resilient as possible,” she said.

    “The proposed dams for the Mekong region are also not being designed with climate change in mind,” she said, “with the result that some dams may be uneconomic, as there won’t be enough water to generate power, and other dams may be risky, as they will not be built to withstand greater floods and extreme weather events predicted by climate change.”

    With 11 mainstream dams and scores of tributary dams planned, the impacts of climate change could be greatly increased, she said.

    The Mekong adaptation report, whose full results will be issued March 29, found “shocking results,” report author Jeremy Carew-Reid said in a statement. “We’ve found that this region is going to experience climate extremes in temperature and rainfall beyond anything that we expected.”

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora