Mekong River Commission To Advance its Data and Information Systems

AKP Phnom Penh, March 19, 2019 —

The Mekong River Commission (MRC) Secretariat is reinvigorating its data, modeling and information systems to provide enhanced and timely information to the public and MRC member countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam, according to the Secretariat top management.

Using modern information and communications technology, the MRC’s Data and Information Systems refreshing and upgrading will cover a broad range of areas, including integrated database and data management systems, data quality control and assurance process, document management system, modeling tools, and river monitoring and forecasting information and communication.

“Our primary goal is to provide faster reactions to address emerging changes such as climate change or sudden water release from reservoirs in the Lancang-Mekong river basin, track basin state and development, and strengthen one of the MRC’s key roles as the regional knowledge hub,” MRC Secretariat Chief Executive Officer Dr. An Pich Hatda said.

The initiative builds on the MRC’s knowledge base of the Mekong river basin of over 60 years in terms of data collection, assessment tool development, and knowledge accumulation. According to the approved MRC’s Procedures for Data, Information Exchange and Sharing (PDIES), the MRC Secretariat is the custodian of Mekong Data and Information Systems.

The initiative is in line with the recent calls by all four MRC member countries to strengthen the MRC’s capacity for river monitoring, forecasting and timely communication, as expressed to the CEO in his high-level meetings with the Cambodian, Lao and Vietnamese Ministers of water, natural resources and environment and the Secretary-General of the Thai National Office for Water Resources at the Prime Minister’s Office.

The move is also on the same wavelength with the organisation’s mid-term review of its strategic plan 2016-2020, recommending the MRC to enhance and rebuild open and robust systems for storage, managing and sharing of data and information.

The initiative would have a multi-development partner support and cooperation, said the MRC CEO, adding that he had discussed the need with representatives from Australia, China and the United States, and invited Australia to work closely with the Secretariat to, as an initial first-step, assess the current situation and explore future options.

This initial support was confirmed in principle late last week in Vientiane as the CEO met with Australian Ambassador to Lao PDR H.E. Jean-Bernard Carrasco.

“Australia sees this initiative as of regional significance and relevance for the benefit of the people and governments of the basin and would be pleased to be a part of it,” Ambassador Carrasco said.

The Secretariat is now developing a concept for this initiative and will consult with member countries, while talks with other partners will continue.

The 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