Japan to give Mekong countries $115 mln for Covid-19 fight, sustainable development

By Viet Anh   July 10, 2020 | 12:48 am PT
Japan to give Mekong countries $115 mln for Covid-19 fight, sustainable development
Vietnam Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh at the 13th Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministers' Meeting, held online on July 9, 2020. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Vietnam and four other countries in the Mekong region will receive Japanese aid worth $115.3 million to combat Covid-19 and work for sustainable development.

Japan announced the decision at the 13th Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministers’ Meeting held online on Thursday and co-chaired by Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh and Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Motegi Toshimitsu, a press release by the Vietnamese foreign ministry said.

Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Thailand will get $106 million to buy medical equipment, train medical personnel and increase their capability to fight the pandemic.

Japan will also give them loans for undertaking emergency responses to the disease and deploy the Kusanone Mekong Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Initiative, with a non-refundable component of ¥1 billion ($9.3 million).

The initiative is meant to improve public health, the education environment and agricultural productivity, build clean water systems and improve the living environment to achieve inclusive growth in the region.

Minh said at the meeting Vietnam and Japan need to quickly deploy the Mekong-Japan Initiative for SDGs since the river basin is suffering severely from drought and salinity.

The initiative was adopted at the 11th summit in Bangkok last November.

The attendees also discussed cooperation to fight Covid-19 and methods to revive the post-pandemic economy, while agreeing to increase cooperation to make a Covid-19 vaccine, protect the supply chain and support businesses.

The Mekong, which flows 4,880 km from its origins in Tibet through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam before reaching the sea, has recorded low water levels and severe water shortages downstream since last year.

Experts have blamed this on climate change and the construction of hydroelectric plants on the river.

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