Vietnam cares about impacts of Mekong River dams

By Vu Anh   May 23, 2024 | 07:35 am PT
Vietnam cares about impacts of Mekong River dams
Satellite image of the Xayaburi dam on the Mekong River in 2020. Photo by Reuters
Vietnam is concerned about the trans-border impacts of hydroelectric dams on the Mekong River, the foreign ministry said Thursday.

"The Mekong River is an inter-regional, river and as a downstream country, Vietnam shows great interest in the possible impact and retention capacity of upstream dams," said deputy spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Doan Khac Viet at a press conference.

He was responding to inquiries about certain experts saying 14 hydroelectric dams on the Mekong River may result in a decrease in the river's flow and the sediments reaching downstream areas. They warned this could contribute to salt intrusion and erosion in the Mekong Delta, which is located entirely in southern Vietnam.

Viet said the development and operation of hydroelectric projects on the Mekong River need to ensure that they do not cause negative impacts on the environment, economic development and society of countries in the area, especially for those in downstream regions. He also said that the projects must abide by international law and regulations.

"Vietnam is ready, willing and able to work with relevant countries to enhance cooperation in order to manage and harness the water resources of the Mekong River in an effective, sustainable manner. We aim to ensure a harmony of interests among countries and for there to be no negative impacts on the livelihood of the people in the region," he added.

The Mekong River, spanning 4,350 km, is the lifeblood for tens of millions of people in several countries, including China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Certain countries in the upstream areas of the river have built several dams, including some which are higher than 100 m, to generate energy. Certain studies have shown that almost all sediment in the river would be kept upstream if all dam projects at the Mekong are developed, which would affect rice farming, the main food source of tens of millions of people in the region.

Dams can also prevent fish from migrating and alter the river’s flow. The Mekong River Commission said the fishery sector on the Mekong River may suffer losses of $23 billion by 2030 as a result, and impacts from deforestation may result in a further loss of $145 billion.

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