April - June 2006
In this issue:
MRC turns spotlight on Mekong challenges at 4th World Water Forum
Local Actions for a Global Challenge was the theme of the 4th World Water Forum held in Mexico City from March 16-21 and a delegation from the Mekong River Commission took this opportunity to discuss the challenges facing the Lower Mekong Basin with water experts from around the world.
Representatives from the four National Mekong Committees, Line Agencies and a delegation from the MRCS participated enthusiastically in the 4th World Water Forum, which attracted around 11,000 attendees.
The MRC was also represented in the World Water Fair where its stand illustrating the work of the MRC and the Mekong Programme drew a wide range of international visitors from water-related organisations, government bodies, research facilities and civil society.
MRCS CEO Dr Olivier Cogels made three presentations at the forum: The first, on hydropower potential in the Mekong River Basin, was made in association with the Worldwide Fund for Nature at the session on Ensuring Dams are a Platform for Growth and Sustainable Development and the second, on the Mekong Programme, was made at the synthesis session on Transboundary Basin Management: Regional Consensus as a Driving Force for Progress and Development.
At the second talk Dr Cogels joined a panel which included experts from Israel, Palestine, Finland, Japan, Canada and Belgium and took the opportunity to explain the challenges facing the Mekong Basin and then detailed how the MRC countries are working together meet these challenges and successfully dealing with transboundary issues.
The third presentation on Hydropower Potential and Development in the Mekong River Basin was made at a session on Transboundary Integrated Water Resources Management held in the French Pavilion.
Navigation Programme Officer Mr Sin Chhay gave a presentation on Regional Economic Integration through Improved Mekong Navigation at the session on Water and Transport, while Flood Management and Mitigation Programme Chief Technical Advisor Mr Nicolaas Bakker discussed Satellite Observations With Regard to Floods at the session on Space-Based Water Observations – Alliances for Providing Information Essential for Managing the World’s Water Resources.
The MRC was also well represented at the session on Sustainable Paddy Water Use and its Multifunctionality with Better Governance with Operations Division Director Dr. Trong Dao Tu on the discussion panel.
NMC delegates, Line Agency representatives and MRCS staff were kept busy attending multiple sessions of interest to their work and relevance to their programmes. The forum, which was spread over five days, was an excellent opportunity for all participants to build capacity by upgrading their knowledge and meeting counterparts from many other countries to discuss ideas about water resources management and exchange experiences.
Dr Cogels was also present at the Ministerial Meeting to inaugurate the Asia Pacific Water Forum, which will include Japan and China as members. He took this occasion to explain the important role MRC played as a river basin organisation in the region and how it demonstrated the importance of transboundary management. He said MRC was happy to support this new forum as it would further enhance transboundary management capabilities within the region.
“The 4th World Water Forum represented a wonderful chance for MRC to promote its work and the Mekong Programme, as well as giving our delegates an avenue to meet people from all over the world who are working in river basin organisations or involved in water management,” Dr Cogels said.
“It gave us a chance to interact with senior members of governments and to cement our good relationships with some of our donor countries and international organisations who are interested in working in partnership with MRC. It also provided an opportunity for a friendly discussion with China’s Minister for Water Resources H.E. Mr Wang Shucheng.”
The forum also presented the MRC with the chance to explain its work to representatives of the international press and other interested parties.
French help MRC in fight against floods
In January Agence Francaise de Développement (AFD - the French Development Agency) signed an agreement with the Mekong River Commission for an 800,000 Euro (around US$966,000) grant to finance an institutional support project and as a first contribution to develop the Mekong-HYCOS - a regional hydrological cycle observing system.
The MRC Secretariat’s Chief Executive Officer Dr Olivier Cogels signed the agreement with Mr Etienne Woitellier, Director of AFD in Vientiane, in the presence of H. E. Maurice Portiche, Ambassador of France to Lao PDR.
The main objective of the Mekong- HYCOS, which has been developed in partnership with the World Meteorological Organisation, is to establish an efficient, reliable and accurate real-time hydrometeorological data collection and transmission system at basin level, while also strengthening relevant national and regional capacities. This information will be shared between Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam.
The development goal of the project is to minimise the loss of lives and property through reducing flood vulnerability in the Mekong River Basin, by strengthening integrated water resources management in the context of transboundary river basin management.
The Mekong-HYCOS project will establish a basin wide hydrometeorological information system, which spatially covers the mainstream and main tributaries of the Mekong river system. It is expected that under the project, more than 20 hydro-meteorological stations will be upgraded. The Mekong- HYCOS system will be integrated into the existing MRC monitoring system, while improving the national hydrological networks and river monitoring/forecasting capacities.
The project will be managed by the Information and Knowledge Management Programme, which will ensure that all data collected basin wide are available in a timely manner at the Regional Flood Management and Mitigation Centre in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Each country will be responsible for the operation and maintenance of its part of the system with the support and co-ordination of the MRC.
The funding agreement has three components.
Website offers snapshot from space
The MRC’s Information and Knowledge Management Programme launched its MRC-IS Portal web service for internal use in January 2006 at the Secretariat.
At the same time the Secretariat’s communications function launched a redesigned, user-friendly MRC website, (www.mrcmekong.org), followed one month later by the addition of a new educational segment called Mekong from Space.
The portal and the Mekong from Space page were developed with the assistance of the Canadian Space Agency, the Canadian Centre for Remote Sensing, Hatfield Consultants and Strata60.
Designed to attract a younger audience to the MRC website, its easy-to use design allows the user to learn about the environment, topography, climate etc of the Mekong Basin through quizzes, informative illustrations and sections on the uses of satellite imagery.
The MRC-IS portal is a web-based gateway to data and information on the Mekong Basin including powerful tools to search, view and, in a controlled fashion, also download data and information. It is intended as a “one-stop-shop” for data and information on the basin. It offers access to interactive maps, all MRC metadata and spatial (GIS) data, the MRC Document Management System (which facilitates sharing and exchange of soft copy documents such as reports, presentations and tabular data) and a search function for the MRCS Documentation Centre.
There is an imagery archive that contains a user guide and data catalogues for online satellite and aerial imagery available in the MRCS soft copy and hard copy imagery archive, while the maps archive contains a user guide and data catalogues for online maps available in the MRCS soft copy maps archive, as well as hard copy maps kept in the MRCS Archive Repository.
Data and information in the MRCIS comes from the member countries, line agencies and ministries, MRC Programmes and projects and through partner organisations.
At present the MRC-IS Portal is restricted to internal use, but there are plans to integrate it into the MRC website and it is hoped that it will become available to external users in the near future.
Improved warning systems key theme for 4th Flood Forum
The Mekong River Commission's Regional Flood Management and Mitigation Centre will hold its 4th Annual Mekong Flood Forum from 18-19 May 2006 at the Angkor Century Hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
The theme of this year’s forum is: “Improving Flood Forecasting and Warning Systems for Flood Management and Mitigation in the Lower Mekong Basin”.
The 4th Annual Mekong Flood Forum aims to raise the awareness of the current state of flood forecasting and warning systems at the national and regional levels in the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB) and will also provide an opportunity for participants to discuss emerging needs within the basin and to review the progress each country has made towards a holistic and balanced flood management plan.
Flooding is an annual event on the Mekong and each year it takes a huge economic and social toll on the people of the basin. Now the magnitude of flood damage in the LMB is increasing due to human intervention, i.e. rapid economic and infrastructure development and intensified land use.
One way to minimise the flood damage is to improve flood forecasting and warning systems and in recent years, the demand for accurate flood information has increased both at a national level at within those communities most affected. There is now a real need to improve the quality of this information to be more accurate, be more timely and be more easily understood by all users.
The MRC’s Flood Management and Mitigation Programme believes that reliable flood forecasting and warning systems will give people at risk enough time to prepare for floods and give them confidence to start planning with a long-term perspective. MRC’s ultimate goal is to ensure the safety and security of the public and to protect property and the environment.
Stakeholders from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam, Line Agencies, donor agencies, representatives from MRC programmes, regional and international scientists and researchers, upstream dialogue partners China and Myanmar, international and national civil society organisations, and local communities are expected to participate in the 4th Annual Mekong Flood Forum.
For more information contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
TAB powers ahead with ambitious work plan
The Technical Advisory Body for Fisheries Management (TAB) is not only meeting its goals, it is progressing so well it has achieved 70 percent of its three-year work plan in only 18 months.
Members attending the TAB meeting held in Vientiane in February heard that the TAB had now reached the halfway point in its three-year work plan and as well as making such headway it was also well on schedule to successfully complete this challenging programme.
The TAB provides a regional forum where senior representatives from national fisheries agencies and National Mekong Committees can develop an understanding of the issues that span the borders between their countries. The body makes recommendations about the uptake of regional fisheries related issues into national policies and action plans.
The TAB’s 2004-2006 Work Plan is an ambitious programme of management training, targeted research and information flow – all designed to increase knowledge of regional fisheries issues and improve capacity among fisheries managers.
During the year, TAB members and senior fisheries managers from each member country helped design and prepare training courses on regional fisheries management for mid to senior level managers.
These courses were run in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR and Siem Reap, Cambodia and more are planned in early 2006 in Viet Nam and Thailand.
One of the TAB’s major functions is the commissioning of research into areas of particular interest and using the results for management and development of fisheries in the Mekong Basin. Three of these studies were completed in 2005:
The MRC will publish these reports later in the year.
During 2005 the TAB published the first three of its Mekong Fisheries Recommendations. These 4-6 page booklets provide a précis of technical studies commissioned by the TAB and are considered important vehicles for transfer of information and knowledge to fisheries managers.
In 2005, TAB members also participated in several international and regional conferences, workshops and forums, including the Meetings of Regional Fisheries Bodies, held by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in Rome.
The FAO is keen for the Mekong River Commission/TAB’s involvement in these meetings as it considers the TAB to be an example for other developing countries of a functioning fisheries management body for inland fisheries.
TAB members also attended the Regional Consultation on Rightsbased Fisheries and Co-management systems for Small-scale Fisheries, in Jakarta in July 2005. This meeting developed regional collaborative mechanisms that will facilitate future developments in small scale fisheries.
Workshop evaluates JRP project
The MRC Secretariat’s Junior Riparian Professional (JRP) project is coming to the end of the current phase in June 2006 when the third batch of JRPs complete their second year on-the-job training and assignment at the MRC Secretariat and the Human Resources Department took this as a good time to reassess the programme.
In December 2005 past and present Junior Riparian Professionals (JRPs) representatives from MRC Programmes and National Mekong Committees (NMCs) were invited to attend an evaluation workshop to assess the impact of the project and come up with some concrete recommendations on improvements for the next phase.
The workshop also aimed to gauge the benefits gained by individual JRPs and the NMCs and sought strategic inputs and comments to aid further development of the project within the MRC's Integrated Capacity Building Programme (ICBP)
The positive outputs of the project were considered to be as follows:
The MRC and its ICBP will now take these comments on board for the second phase of the project.
10,000th user for MekongInfo
In January 2006 MekongInfo - the MRC’s public information database celebrated the registration of its 10,000th user. Mr Nam Seng is a young Cambodian, who holds a BSc in agronomy from the University of Agriculture and Forestry in Thu Duc, Ho Chi Minh City.
Some 200 to 300 new users join MekongInfo every month. MekongInfo also gets many visits from unregistered users, and altogether records more than 500,000 hits per month.
A recent survey has shown that MekongInfo’s users come from many different backgrounds: government agencies, the private sector, development agencies, universities, and many others. We are especially proud that about half of the users come from the Lower Mekong Basin countries – Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam.
MRC hosts Challenge Programme meetings
In February 2006, the MRC Secretariat in Vientiane, Lao PDR hosted a series of meetings held by the Challenge Programme on Water and Food (CPWF). CPWF is an international research programme that aims to develop methods to improve water productivity in agriculture; an issue in which the MRC has a keen interest.
On February 13-14, the programme held a Workshop on Impact Pathways Analysis. This is an innovative system of identifying desired impacts, monitoring progress to attaining them, and then assessing whether they can logically and realistically be expected.
On February 16-17, CPWF Project Leaders from four of the CPWF's “Benchmark River Basins” – the Karkheh (in Iran), the Indo-Gangetic, the Mekong and the Yellow River – held their meeting. Presentations addressed a very wide range of issues, including basin management and governance, landscape management, integrated farming systems and improved crop varieties.
Project Leaders provided overviews of their projects, their progress, early results and innovation.and these presentations provided insights into issues of water productivity, associated technology and management systems from both the Mekong and elsewhere in Asia.
4th Annual Mekong Flood Forum
18-19 May 2006. Angkor Century Hotel, Siem Reap, Cambodia
International Conference on Rivers
and Civilization: Multidisciplinary
Perspectives on Major River Basins
25-28 June 2006, La Crosse, Wisconsin, U.S.
10th International Conference on Wetland
Systems for Water Pollution Control
23-29 September 2006, Lisbon, Portugal
Organiser: International Water Association (IWA)
3rd International Symposium on Integrated
26-28 September 2006, Bochum, Germany.
Mrs Jana Radoi, +49 3641 35 33 221, Fax: +49 3641 35 33 271,
14-18 February 2006. Bandung, Indonesia
4th World Water Forum
16-22 March 2006. Mexico City, Mexico
Including The 1st International 'Water and Film' Event
23rd MRC Joint Committee Meeting
April 2006. Vientiane, Lao PDR
Fourth Annual Mekong Flood Forum
18-19 May 2006. Phnom Penh, Cambodia
International Conference on Rivers and
Civilisation: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Major River
25-28 June 2006. La Crosse, Wisconsin, US
3rd International Symposium on Integrated
Water Resources Management
26-28 September 2006. Bochum, Germany.
Mrs Jana Radoi, Conventus Congressmanagement & Marketing
Tel: +49 3641 35 33 221,
Fax: +49 3641 35 33 271,