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  • UN Envoy Meets With Sesan Villagers to Discuss Dam Site

    03/29/2016

    The U.N.’s human rights envoy to Cambodia on Sunday promised villagers in Stung Treng province who are set to be displaced by the construction of the Lower Sesan 2 hydropower dam that she would raise their plight with the government, a village representative said.

    Puth Khoeun, a representative for about 240 families who have rejected compensation offers for land they will lose to make way for the massive energy project, said Rhona Smith spent more than an hour hearing the grievances of 60 residents during a meeting in Sesan district’s Srekor commune.

  • Water management center for Mekong River to be established

    03/28/2016

    The Prime Minister has revealed a water management center will be set up under the Mekong-Lancang Cooperation (MLC) to manage water levels in the Mekong River more effectively.

    Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha said after returning from the first MLC meeting in China that the water management center will alert countries in the Mekong River Basin to be prepared whenever China discharges water into the river.

  • China leaves little doubt who is master of the Mekong

    03/23/2016

    China is demonstrating that it has real power to control and manage the Mekong River, as Beijing launches a diplomatic campaign to engage with affected countries downstream. This situation has become clear after China’s contacts with the other five countries along the river – Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Physically, about half the nearly […]

  • China’s Mekong dam release ‘nothing special’

    03/23/2016

    Local activists have accused China of using the Mekong River’s water resources to increase its political power in the region.

    The accusation came Tuesday as Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha left Thailand for China for the opening day of the first Mekong-Lancang Cooperation meeting being held in Sanya, Hainan province, until tomorrow.

    Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and China will discuss cooperation under the theme “Shared River, Shared Future”.

    Earlier, China announced on March 10 it had released water from Jinghong dam in Yunnan, with further releases planned until April 10, to help ease the drought in Thailand and other countries in the sub-region.

  • Mekong Drought Worsens Amid Doubts Over Lao Promises

    03/22/2016

    Drought in Southeast Asia is raising concerns in the Cambodian and Vietnamese countryside where salinity levels are rising in the Mekong River and people are skeptical about fresh promises from Laos that it will respect the rights of downstream countries in dam construction.

    The reassurances from Vientiane were delivered by Bounhang Vorachith, who was recently named secretary-general of the Laos Communist Party, sparking hopes he might show a more conciliatory approach to negotiations with countries who share use of the Mekong River.

    “Laos will make an effort to ensure that there will be no impact,” Bounhang recently told the Cambodia government in regards to Vientaine’s plans to build 11 dams along the Mekong River and their impact on neighboring countries.

  • China’s alarming ‘water diplomacy’ on the Mekong

    03/22/2016

    At first glance, it looks beneficent. As countries along the Lower Mekong river that snakes through mainland Southeast Asia struggled in the grip of a severe drought, China announced it would release water from its upstream Jinghong dam over nearly a month from March 15. The announcement was partly intended as a goodwill gesture one week ahead of the inaugural Lancang-Mekong Cooperation summit of leaders of the six Mekong region countries.

    But while the water release will spell some immediate relief for the drought-stricken region, it portends future geopolitical tensions between China and its southern Mekong neighbors. Having unilaterally accumulated political power by exploiting geography and manipulating natural waterways through the construction of a slew of upriver dams, China appears intent to set the regional water management rules as it deems fit.

    The Mekong, which the Chinese refer to as Lancang, is Asia’s seventh-longest river and provides livelihoods and habitats for riverfront communities and natural wildlife throughout its meandering flow from China and Myanmar to Laos and Thailand, down to Cambodia and Vietnam before it reaches the sea. China’s damming of the upper Mekong has long been considered a geopolitical risk for the lower riparian states and a source of potential conflict for the entire Greater Mekong Subregion — encompassing Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. That risk has manifested itself in an inchoate fashion through the annual dry seasons, when about 60 million people in fishing villages and communities along the Mekong are severely affected. But any protest has been silenced by geopolitical realities.

  • Blocking the Flow: Cambodia’s Sesan II Dam

    03/18/2016

    In Cambodia’s far north, the Mekong is under threat from one of the most controversial environmental project in the country. Luc Forsyth and Gareth Bright are on a journey to follow the Mekong River from sea to source, fully immersing themselves in the adventure of exploring one of the world’s most famous rivers. Over the coming months, The Diplomat will share some of the stories they’ve found along the river.

  • Vanishing Roots

    03/17/2016

    In Cambodia’s Northern Prey Lang forest, one of the last remaining evergreen forests in Southeast Asia, a community is organizing itself to preserve its roots, traditions, and protect the land to which it belongs.

  • Groundwater shortage could jeopardise 1.5 million farmers: study

    03/16/2016

    Amid late-arriving rains and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, groundwater supplies are shrinking, a fact that could leave 1.5 million Cambodian farmers unable to water their crops within 15 years, according to a study published last month in the Journal of Hydrology.

    The study by Laura Erban and Steven Gorelick of the department of earth system science at Stanford University found that a growing reliance on groundwater use – which has grown by 10 per cent annually in recent years – may drop the water table below the “lift limit” of suction pump wells.

    “Extensive groundwater irrigation jeopardises access for shallow domestic water supply wells, raises the costs of pumping for all groundwater users, and may exacerbate arsenic contamination and land subsidence that are already widespread hazards in the region,” the study authors wrote.

    Even if the Kingdom starts drawing more irrigation water from rivers and lakes, its options are limited, the study found.

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