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France aids Mekong River monitoring program

By Minh Nga   May 17, 2021 | 01:28 am PT
France aids Mekong River monitoring program
A view of the Mekong river bordering Thailand and Laos is seen from the Thai side in Nong Khai, Thailand, in 2019. Photo by Reuters/Soe Zeya Tun.
The French government has granted 1.5 million euros ($1.82 million) to the Mekong River Commission (MRC) to improve and expand its river monitoring program.

The program is to better serve river monitoring and management of water infrastructure project operations along the mainstream and key tributaries of the Mekong.

The Mekong River, which flows through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, is the lifeblood of millions of people who depend on the river for their livelihoods. But as development accelerates and climate change intensifies, insufficient data and information on water infrastructure in the basin and the way this infrastructure is operated have made it difficult to forecast the impacts.

The funding, made available through the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), will span four years from 2021 to 2025, the MRC said in a statement.

It aims at increasing the ability of the MRC and its member countries, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, to monitor rainfall and river flow in order to better understand flow changes and corresponding impacts of development projects and climate change on riverine communities and the environment, especially water quality, sediment, and fisheries.

"We hope to strengthen the current river monitoring system, making it more efficient, reliable and capable of collecting and transmitting real-time rainfall, water level, and other environmental data to aid responsible development and management of the river," said An Pich Hatda, MRC secretariat CEO.

The new funding is a follow-up to two other grants of 4 million euros from France for the first two phases of the hydro-meteorological network project.

During the first phase from 2007 to 2012, the MRC established a network of 49 hydro-meteorological stations along the Mekong and its tributaries to collect near real-time data of water level and rainfall every 15 minutes for flood forecasting and river monitoring.

For the second phase from 2016 to 2022, the MRC has expanded the network with 11 additional stations along the mainstream and improved the understanding of river dynamics and the application of data for other areas of water resources management.

Since 2006, France has granted the MRC over 10 million euros to support river monitoring, flood and drought management, climate change, and environmental management.

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