News / Asia

Mekong River Faces Development Challenges

Vietnamese fishermen collect catches from the Mekong river near Arey Ksat village on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Feb. 6, 2014.
Vietnamese fishermen collect catches from the Mekong river near Arey Ksat village on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Feb. 6, 2014.
Ron Corben
A summit of four countries bordering the Mekong River has led to calls for greater cooperation managing the river's vital water resources.
 
The Mekong River Commission (MRC), which includes Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, has also concluded there is a need for more study of the rising challenges of population growth, water demand and impacts of climate change on the watershed.

Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said strengthening regional cooperation is needed to ensure sustained development along the Mekong. He warned of severe negative impacts facing the region and pointed to the mounting pressure on water and related resources in the Mekong River basin, home to 60 million people.   

Vietnam faces rising salt water intrusion into the Mekong Delta region due to lower fresh water flow, reduced 10 percent during the past three decades.

Vietnam Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Nguyen Minh Quang called for Laos to consult with other Mekong River countries before completing construction of two dams on the lower Mekong.  

But Laos is pressing ahead with completion of the controversial 1,285 megawatt Xayaburi Dam. Environmentalists say the 260 megawatt Don Sahong Dam, near the Lao border with Cambodia, would have a significant impact on migratory fish, vital to feeding millions of people, especially in Cambodia.

The U.S.-based non-government group, International Rivers says work on the projects should be halted immediately. International Rivers activist Painporn Deetes says the leaders should have condemned the rush to build dams.

"This is disappointing, no words on the status of construction on at least two dams that are being built on the mainstream river," Deetes said. "But the Mekong River needs immediate action from the decision and action from all leaders. It is very important for member countries to recognize this is really an international river - an international issue."  

No enforcement powers

But the Mekong River Commission, created in 1995 as a means of scientific research has no enforcement powers, relies on member states to back pledges made at the summit meetings.

Senglong Youk from the Cambodia based Fisheries Action Coalition Team (FACT) says the commission should be reformed to take into account recommendations and calls by civil society.

"The Mekong River Commission needs to be reformed," he said. "The MRC is like a [paper tiger], it is like a postman, it has no power at all. No authority at all to put the pressure on any country specifically like Laos PDR that make the decisions to build the dams on the Xayaburi and Don Sahong."

Environmentalists are preparing to step up a campaign to delay the Don Sahong project, which still requires Laos National Assembly ratification, now expected in December.  

Laos told the summit it would carefully consider the concerns about dam construction impact.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope Condemns IS 'Persecution' of Minorities

Pope delivers annual 'Urbi et Orbi' (to the city and the world) blessing, appeals for end to conflicts in Africa, dialogue in Middle East, condemns Taliban attack in Pakistan More

China Reduces Number of Crimes Punishable by Death

Earlier this year China announced plans to remove nine crimes from the list of capital offenses, including counterfeiting, fraudulent fund-raising and forcing others into prostitution More

Analysis: For N. Koreans, Parody Has Grave Tone

Most North Koreans who might see 'The Interview' would be horribly offended, outraged, and confused More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Daniel from: Laos...
April 07, 2014 7:46 PM
I'm in Laos now, after a long walk around the river,actually two rivers meet here in luangprabang ..wow what an amazing place people and mostly resources,hardwoods,bamboo,poverty however there seems to be plenty of wealth too,and the most relaxed culture ever! The river is lowest now lots of trash on the river banks,regular run off,from sewage etc.....considering the
U.S. Completely Anilated this land with bombs in 60s. More then anywhere on the planet,it seems now! Would be the time for payback,meaning helping this country to see how devastating. These dams will be,I wish there was something I could do from this standpoint,just hangin out here for now...peace to Loas! Daniel..

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syriai
X
Jeff Seldin
December 24, 2014 11:38 PM
Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syria

Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaise

Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Mombasa in Holiday Tourism Slump Due to Security Fears

Kenya's usually popular beachside tourist destination of Mombasa is seeing a much slower holiday season this year due to fears of insecurity as the country has suffered from a string of terror attacks linked to Somali militants. Mohammed Yusuf reports for VOA on how businessmen and tourists feel about the situation.
Video

Video For Somalis, 2014 Marked by Political Instability Within Government

While Somalia has long been torn apart by warfare and violence, this year one of the country's biggest challenges has come from within the government, as political infighting curtails the country's progress, threatens security gains and disappoints the international community. VOA's Gabe Joselow report.
Video

Video US Political Shift Could Affect Iran Nuclear Talks

Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to resolve Iran’s nuclear crisis are continuing into 2015 after Iran and six world powers failed to agree by a November deadline. U.S. domestic politics, however, could complicate efforts to reach a deal in the new year. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video NYSE: The Icon of Capitalism

From its humble beginnings in 1792 to its status as an economic bellweather for the world, the New York Stock Exchange is an integral part of the story of America. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from Wall Street.
Video

Video Islamic State Emergence Transforms Syria and Iraq in 2014

The emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as a potent force in early 2014 changed the dynamics of the region. Their brutal methods - including executions and forced slavery - horrified the international community, drawing Western forces into the conflict. It also splintered the war in Syria, where more than 200,000 Syrians have died in the conflict. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell looks back at a deadly year in the region -- and what 2015 may hold.
Video

Video Massive Study Provides Best Look at Greenland Ice Loss Yet

The Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than predicted, according to a new study released in the Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences that combines NASA satellite data and aerial missions. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the finding means coastal communities worldwide could be at greater risk, sooner, from the impact of rising seas.
Video

Video US Marines, Toys for Tots Bring Christmas Joy

Christmas is a time for giving in the United States, especially to young children who look forward to getting presents. But some families don't have money to buy gifts. For nearly 70 years, a U.S. Marines-sponsored program has donated toys and distributed them to underprivileged children during the holiday season. VOA's Deborah Block tells us about the annual Toys for Tots program.
Video

Video France Rocked by Attacks as Fear of ISIS-Inspired Terror Grows

Eleven people were injured, two seriously, when a man drove his car into crowds of pedestrians Sunday night in the French city of Dijon, shouting ‘God is Great’ in Arabic. It’s the latest in a series of apparent ‘lone-wolf’ terror attacks in the West. Henry Ridgwell looks at the growing threat of attacks, which security experts say are likely inspired by the so-called "Islamic State" terror group.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid