The Greater Mekong Forum on Water Food and Energy provides a great chance for participants to exchange their knowledge and views on international rivers in the region. At the most recent Forum in Bangkok, in November 2016, my attention was caught by a presentation titled “From MRC (Mekong River Commission) to LMC (Lancang-Mekong Cooperation) towards a healthy economy and healthy river in Greater Mekong: the core transboundary compensative mechanism for water benefit-sharing.” During the forum, when Professor He Daming from Yunnan University proposed a transboundary compensation mechanism for water benefit-sharing after introducing the Chinese-initiated Lancang-Mekong Cooperation, launched in 2016, participants around my table first understood that after building eight dams on the upper Lancang-Mekong mainstream, China finally admitted those dams caused negative impacts to downstream states and would like to offer certain compensation under the LMC. However, when the presentation reached its end and a short discussion followed, several pairs of eyes widened when they found out that what was being proposed instead was that downstream states might get a bill under the transboundary compensation mechanism if they expected river flow augmentation from the upstream dams during times of drought, or that they had to offer to pay China if they asked for no more dams to be built on the upstream.Read More
In 1993, on the Mun River in Si Sa Ket Province, Northeast Thailand, an irrigation weir called Rasi Salai was built that would lead to almost two decades of at times intense conflict between the communities whose livelihoods were harmed by the project and the government agencies that built and operated it. Since the late 2000s, however, the conflict has gradually thawed as a participatory social impact assessment was produced supported by the Royal Irrigation Department (RID), the government partly compensated affected communities, and negotiations began on how lost livelihoods could be recovered.
In this context, the RECOVER project in Northeast Thailand, led by the Mekong Sub-Region Social Research Center (MSSRC), Ubon Ratchathani University and with support from SUMERNET, has worked together with community leaders and affected villagers, community-based organizations and non-government organizations, local authorities, and government officers from RID and the Office of Natural Resource and Environment in a collaborative wetland mapping project. The project addresses a self-identified goal agreed upon amongst the project partners to clearly categorize a wetland area affected by the Rasi Salai dam, and designate permitted uses within it which may range from rice and cassava growing, to fish or forest conservation areas.Read More
Across the Mekong Region, a great diversity of wetlands and the agro-ecological farming that they support are central to many rural communities’ livelihoods, and contribute to local and national economies. Unfortunately, many areas have been degraded or lost due as a consequence of large-scale infrastructure development, including for irrigation and hydroelectricity. In October 2014, our SUMERNET Phase 3 project got underway in three locations in the Mekong Region in Thailand, Laos and Vietnam aiming to contribute towards the recovery of such wetlands, their agro-ecological farming systems, and local ‘situational’ knowledge associated with both.Read More