Germany Commits EUR 4 million to Strengthen Mekong Transboundary Water Cooperation
AKP Phnom Penh, October 02, 2018 —
The Government of Germany has committed EUR 4 million (approximately US$4.6 million) to the Mekong River Commission (MRC) to strengthen Mekong cross-border water cooperation, according to an MRC’s press release.
The German support aims to increase dialogue and cooperation on transboundary water resource planning and management among the lower Mekong countries – Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Viet Nam – who are members of the MRC.
The funding will span over a three-year period from January 2019 to December 2021. It will be implemented through a German technical development organisation, GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit), according to an official letter from the Embassy of Germany in Vientiane to the MRC Secretariat late last week.
“This continued contribution from Germany will help strengthen the MRC’s efforts to bring about improved integrated and coordinated river basin planning and management at a time that the lower Mekong basin is experiencing rapid development and change,” MRC Chief Executive Officer Pham Tuan Phan said.
Much of the funding will go to support two joint projects that are transboundary in nature between Cambodia and Lao PDR, and Cambodia and Thailand. The projects seek to better understand and manage the Mekong basin resources and address flood and drought issues. These projects are currently in their piloting stage that will end this year and are being supported by Germany through a similar funding mechanism.
A portion of the grant will also go to the MRC’s new financial system known as the “basket fund” to implement overall activities under the strategic plan 2016-2020. The system allows the MRC to use existing funds for any of its prioritised activities, thus addressing emerging needs timely and improving the implementation of projects that benefit more than 65 million people in the basin.
The cooperation between Germany and the MRC is expected to serve as an example of how, through the two parties, the Mekong member states can work together at a bilateral level to tackle problems on the ground in a more efficient manner.
“Our financial commitment today will provide additional support to concerted efforts in the Mekong region by the MRC to ensure there is a continued dialogue and strong cooperation among the Mekong countries and timely protection and sustainable management of the Mekong water resources,” MRC-GIZ Cooperation Programme Director Bertrand Meinier said.
Germany has financed the MRC since 2003, providing some EUR 31 million or US$36 million of funding. Over 15 years, the German support has made it possible for the MRC to implement various strategic activities, including institutional reforms, sustainable hydropower development, integrated water resources management, flood mitigation, and climate change.
The financial agreement of this new funding is expected to be signed between Germany and the MRC at the end of this year.
MRC is an intergovernmental organisation for regional dialogue and cooperation in the lower Mekong river basin, established in 1995 based on the Mekong Agreement between Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. The organisation serves as a regional platform for water diplomacy as well as a knowledge hub of water resources management for the sustainable development of the region.
By Khan Sophirom