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MRC-US partnership further strengthened to support river exchanges, Mekong data sharing

The United States Department of State has awarded the Mekong River Commission (MRC) a grant of USD773,570 to improve data collection and sharing for data-driven cooperative water management in the Mekong River Basin and continued exchanges with the Mississippi River Commission.

The announcement was made early this month during a virtual meeting between the MRC and the Mississippi River Commission where some 50 senior representatives from both sides joined.

The support, provided under the framework of the Mekong-US Partnership, will run for a period of three years from 2021 to 2024. The grant directly backs key activities of the Basin Development Strategy 2021–2030 and the MRC Strategic Plan 2021–2025.

“The United States is pleased to support the MRC in promoting and improving transparent water data sharing. Although small, this grant will provide strategic support to the important work of the MRC in the Mekong and wider region,” said Ms Christine Dawson, Director of the Office of Conservation and Water at the US Department of State.

The programme will address crucial data gaps and improve data sharing for impact monitoring, forecasting, infrastructure operations, basin planning, and state-of-basin reporting. It will support disaggregated data collection and mapping on gender and vulnerability, including riverine communities to improve basin planning and operations, as well as early warning systems.

Under their existing technical cooperation, the MRC and the Mississippi River Commission, with technical support of the US Army Corps of Engineers, have conducted several exchange visits contributing to increased knowledge and practice of shared river basin planning, disaster management and stakeholder engagement in both basins.

Major General Diana Holland, President of the Mississippi River Commission, said that she recognized the Mekong River Commission as a technologically advanced world-class international River Basin organization serving the Mekong Countries. “Because of the Mekong River Commission’s history and standing in the international community, the Mississippi River Commission sees you as an equal partner in the Sister River Partnership. Just as the Mississippi River Commission believes that we have much to offer, and we are anxious to learn from you.”

Dr An Pich Hatda, Chief Executive Officer of the MRC Secretariat commented that “We have a common mission and shared commitment to promote sustainable development and management of the Mekong River that is confronted with increasing risks from climate change, extreme floods, droughts, and development activities.”

Modern technology including remote sensing products and datasets for basin planning and operations will support the improved implementation of the Procedures for Water Use and Monitoring together with sharing of basin conditions with the countries’ and people. The programme will also facilitate information sharing and communication between countries as they relate to water-related emergencies including water quality, navigation, and dam safety. The programme is expected to benefit basin planners, water managers, infrastructure operators, vulnerable river communities, and the general public.

With the new grant, the MRC has received approximately USD4.8 million in funding support from the United States since 2002.

Earlier this year the MRC joined the Friends of the Mekong that includes the Asian Development Bank, Australia, Cambodia, the European Union, Japan, Lao PDR, Myanmar, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Thailand, the United States, Viet Nam, and the World Bank.

Source: Lao News Agency