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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid