Retrieved from: NY Times
“In my last post, I described how our attempts at fishing in the Mekong River had produced meager results, which was somewhat puzzling because the Mekong produces the largest harvest of freshwater fish in the world, by far.
“As a father, this was frustrating; catching fish was the top priority of my 10-year old son, Luca, and I was determined that he fulfill that goal. But as a river ecologist, our low success rate had me curious about the status of fish populations in this river.
“And it wasn’t just that I’m an inexperienced angler trying to catch fish in a big, complicated river (and using a rod and reel in a place where people generally use nets and traps). We’d spent one afternoon with experienced fishers — using the right equipment — and we’d hauled in a pretty small catch for the effort. Were Mekong fisheries in decline?
Read more: NY Times
Photo retrieved from: www.savethemekong.org
“Laos reached an agreement with downstream countries Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand more than a year ago to suspend construction of the US$3.5-billion (Bt113 billion) dam while independent studies were made on fish migration patterns and the possible threat posed by the dam to food security.
About 60 million people depend on the Mekong River for their livelihoods through a hand-to-mouth existence.
However, Vientiane ignored what amounted to a moratorium, Thai construction companies went to work immediately in November at the site and plans for further dams were released.
At last week’s meeting of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) in Luang Prabang, Cambodia demanded that all construction be immediately halted and argued that Laos had misinterpreted previous agreements. Meanwhile, Vietnam insisted that no dams be constructed until an agreed upon independent study is completed.
Thai general contracting and infrastructure development group Ch Karnchang – through its 50 per-cent-owned subsidiary Xayaburi Power Co – has a 29-year concession to operate the dam’s 1,285-megawatt power plant, as well as assurances from Thailand that it will purchase about 95 per cent of the electricity generated.”
Read more: Save the Mekong
Retrieved from: www.phnompenhpost.com
“Some questions remain about whether hydro dams on the upper Mekong River in China exacerbated conditions during Cambodia’s devastating drought of 2010, environmental groups say, as China’s dam program powers ahead.
When the first power-generating unit was switched on last month at China’s giant 262-metre tall Nuozhadu hydroelectric dam, which will be largest on the river when completed in 2014, state-run newspaper the China Daily sang its praises as a dam that would significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Extensive research, the China Daily added, also showed potential impacts of the Nuozhadu and others dams on countries downstream – including Cambodia, where fishing communities along the Mekong fear Laos’s proposed Xayaburi dam – would be minimal.
Research showed “water flow in the river’s China section accounted for only 13.5 per cent of the river’s total, making the country’s hydropower development have little impact downstream”, it said.”
Read more: The Phnom Penh Post
Photo retrieved from: www.africanwater.org
“Tensions over water resources are threatening economic growth in many countries and presenting a source of conflict especially given the efforts of all countries to step up economic development.
“Dam construction and stream adjustment by some countries in upstream rivers represents a concern for many countries and an implicit factor affecting relations between relevant countries.”
“The exploitation of the Mekong River — the world’s 12th longest river, has loomed as an increasingly divisive issue among nations through which it flows — Myanmar, Laos,Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and its source country China.
More than 60 million people rely in some way on the river, a vital transport waterway and the world’s largest inland fishery with an annual estimated catch of 3.9 million tonnes, according to the Mekong River Commission.”
Read more: The Phuket News
Photo retrieved from: www.globalvoicesonline.org
“Disputes over water are common around the world, exacerbated by climate change, growing populations, rapid urbanisation, increased irrigation and a rising demand for alternative energy sources such as hydroelectricity.
Following are a few of the regions where competition for water from major rivers systems is fuelling tension.
India is home to three major river systems — the Ganges, Brahmaputra and the Indus — which support 700 million people. As an upstream nation, it controls water flows to Bangladesh to the east and Pakistan to the west. The Indus supplies some 80 percent of Pakistan’s irrigated land.
India and Pakistan are both building hydropower dams in disputed Kashmir along Kishanganga river. Pakistan fears India’s dams will disrupt water flows.
India, for its part, is concerned that China is building dams along the Tsangpo river, which runs into India as the Brahmaputra.”
Read more: Reuters
Photo retrieved from: www.earthtimes.org
“NONGKHAI PROVINCE, Thailand and XAYABURI PROVINCE, Laos — Although his family has lived for generations beside the Mekong River, Itthapon Kamsuk thinks he might soon have to move.
During the dry season, from March to May, Kamsuk’s village in Nongkhai province in northeastern Thailand routinely runs short of water, and big fish are growing scarcer.
“The water level is already unpredictable, because of the dams in China,” the 45-year-old said. “Before dam construction, we lived peacefully. We could have fish all the time.”
Now, another hydroelectric dam is being built on the Mekong in a deal between the Lao government and a Thai construction company, despite an international agreement to protect water rights along the river and promises by Thai and Lao leaders to pause the project for further study.
The 1,260-megawatt Xayaburi is the first of 11 proposed mainstream dams that will affect agriculture, fishing and cultural heritage from its location about 100 miles upstream from Kamsuk’s village in northeast Thailand, through Cambodia to the Mekong River delta in Vietnam — the fertile heart of the world’s second largest rice exporter.”
Read more: Alaska Dispatch
Photo retrieved from: www.mannagum.org
“On Friday, Laos’ Foreign Minister Thongloun Sisoulith announced that the Xayaburi Dam had been postponed, pending completion of further environmental studies. While initially promising news, today’s Vientiane Times confirms that the Lao government nevertheless intends to allow Ch. Karnchang, the dam’s builder, to continue scheduled activities at the dam site, including the resettlement of affected villages. To date, the Mekong River Commission member countries have not yet decided whether to proceed with the project, in accordance with the 1995 Mekong Agreement.
“Laos’ promise to suspend the Xayaburi Dam is welcomed,” said Kirk Herbertson, Southeast Asia Policy Coordinator for International Rivers. “However, Laos has been saying for months that it has agreed to suspend the dam, while at the same time allowing Ch. Karnchang to continue to move forward with construction activities on everything but the dam itself. Actions speak louder than words. We expect the Lao government to order Ch. Karnchang to immediately stop all construction-related activities at the Xayaburi site and cancel plans to resettle more villages until a regional agreement has been reached.”
Although the Xayaburi Dam site is located in Laos, postponing the project depends on the willingness of the Government of Thailand, as well as Laos. Thai construction giant Ch. Karnchang is building the project, Thai banks including state-owned Krung Thai bank are financing the project, and the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) has already signed a power purchase agreement that binds the project to a specific timeline.”
Read more: International Rivers
Photo retrieved from: www.internationalrivers.org
“In a dusty gorge deep in landlocked Laos, work is underway on a project that could change South-East Asia forever.
Despite the protests of countries downstream and the warnings of scientists, a construction company has begun building the first dam across the lower reaches of one of the world’s great rivers.
Officially the Lao government says it has not decided whether to go ahead with damming the Mekong at Xayaburi – but all the evidence suggests otherwise.”
Read more: International Rivers
Photo retrieved from: www.africanwater.org
“The bountiful rivers throughout this South-east Asian country have allowed Cambodians to be self-reliant for generations. But concerned environmentalists envision a future where this vital food supply will no longer provide enough protein to feed the country on its own.
The Mekong system is the most productive freshwater fishery in the world. It represents a key source of animal protein for the countries along the Lower Mekong – Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
No country is more dependent on this than Cambodia, where most of the nation’s protein intake comes from its inland fisheries.
Environmentalists are warning, however, that a series of hydropower dams proposed for the Lower Mekong’s mainstream river pose a grave threat to the region’s food supply. The message, they say, is particularly resonant ahead of June’s United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, known as Rio+20.”
“One of the most significant threats to the sustainable development of the region is the Mekong mainstream dams,” says Ame Trandem, the South-east Asia programme director for the advocacy group International Rivers. “It would be irresponsible of the region’s governments to allow the Mekong River to be dammed.”
Read more: IPS
Photo retrieved from: www.commondreams.org
“A report released today on global water security from the Defense Intelligence Agency assesses that in next 10 years, water instability will be likely in “nations important to the United States”, and says that in the next decades, the use of water as a weapon will become more likely.
The report, which focused on the Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Mekong, Jordan, Indus, Brahmaputra, and Amu Darya water basins, states that the availability of potable water will not keep up with demand without better water management.
While environmentalists have pointed to agroecology, food sovereignty and viewing water as part of the commons as a path towards responsible water management, the intelligence report sees biotechnology, agricultural exports and virtual water trade as the way forward.
Today, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who requested the report, commented on the report in a speech at the State Department, saying, “As the world’s population continues to grow, demand for water will go up but our fresh water supplies will not keep pace.” “These difficulties will all increase the risk of instability within and between states,” she said.”
Read more: Common Dreams