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Mekong Delta loses half of silt to upstream dams: scientists

Le Van Nam has difficulty sleeping at night thinking of the fall in yields year after year on his rice field allegedly due to less silt being washed down the Mekong River because of upstream dams.

“In the last winter-spring crop, my 5,000 square meters only produced 3.5 tons of rice while it was four tons the previous year,” the farmer from An Giang Province said.

Declining flows down the Mekong River due to the building of dams upstream have been partly blamed – as have severe droughts — for reduced yields and worsening erosion in the delta.

According to the An Giang Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, floods in the 4,900-km river used to bring silt and fish.

However, declining flows in recent years have made the land less fertile.

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Massive Fish Kill in Vietnam

Vietnam’s top environment official offered an apology on Friday for his government’s “confused” handling of a mass fish kill off that has killed tons of fish across a wide swath of the country’s central coast.

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Myanmar Launches First Report on Extractive Industries Revenue

News Release On Friday, March 18 several hundred people gathered in Yangon, Myanmar for the launch of the country’s first EITI report, which provides the most comprehensive data to date on Myanmar’s revenues from extractives; traditionally opaque sectors in the country. Dr. Maung Maung Thein, outgoing chair of the Multi Stakeholder Group that implements EITI […]

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Small is worrying: tributaries, ‘small’ hydro and the Mekong hydropower debate

So, last week I attended a meeting held at Can Tho University entitled ‘Sustainable Uses of Mekong Water Resources’. With Can Tho sitting squarely in the middle of the Mekong Delta, and suffering dreadfully from the current drought, the debate was highly emotional. And often very loud.

Participants acknowledged El Niño and climate change as two variables responsible for the absence of rain. But most of the ire was directed at mainstream dams north of the delta.Mainstream dams. South of the China border, none of these are complete, and just two are under construction. The Laotian dams were certainly focussed upon, but most of the concern was with the Chinese dams. Recently, China has released a considerable quantum of water from their dams, with the stated aim of assisting their drought-stricken neighbours to the south. The reasons for these releases were treated with scepticism.

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US Preps Cambodia for Nuclear Energy

The US Department of Energy (DOE) held a workshop on “Nuclear Safeguards and the Additional Protocol” at Phnom Penh’s Sunway Hotel yesterday, highlighting the need for more technical knowledge and greater information sharing on nuclear power in Cambodia.

The workshop comes on the heels of a visit by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev last November, when the two countries signed a “memorandum on nuclear cooperation” that revealed the government’s efforts to obtain nuclear power with assistance from Russian experts.

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Northern Vietnam may need 5-7 water dams to tackle drought, say scientists

A group of scientists has proposed building a network of between five and seven dams on the Red River to store and supply water for Vietnam’s northern region.

The group is studying water shortages in the region and believes that water dams can help the provinces survive dry seasons, which have become very intense the past few years.

“Unlike hydropower dams whose main task is to generate power, these dams will regulate water flows, especially during the dry season,” Tien Phong newspaper quoted Tran Dinh Hoa, deputy director of the Vietnam Academy of Water Resources, as saying.

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Myanmar media still repressed: watchdog

Myanmar remains one of the most repressive media environments in the world, according to a new report.

The 2016 World Press Freedom Index, prepared by international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders, ranked Myanmar 143 out of 180 countries included in the assessment.

The overall score for the country worsened last year, despite ongoing political changes. The ranking is based on several factors, including media pluralism, independence, legislative framework and transparency.

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Asia’s Troubled Water

Asia’s water woes are worsening. Already the world’s driest continent in per capita terms, Asia now faces a severe drought that has parched a vast region extending from southern Vietnam to central India. This has exacerbated political tensions, because it has highlighted the impact of China’s dam-building policy on the environment and on water flows to the dozen countries located downstream.