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  • Mekong Delta loses half of silt to upstream dams: scientists

    05/03/2016

    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.

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

    04/29/2016

    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.

  • The Mekong River winding through the flooded forest in Cambodia.

    Asia’s Troubled Water

    04/23/2016

    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.

  • Major Study Warns Planned Dams May Severely Harm Mekong Delta

    04/23/2016

    A major new study warns that a planned cascade of hydropower dams along the Mekong River could cause “very high adverse effects on some of the key sectors and environmental resources in Cambodia and Viet Nam.”

    Viet Nam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has just publicly released “Study on the Impacts of Mainstream Hydropower on the Mekong River”, also known as the “Delta Study.” The study used models to simulate various dam construction scenarios. And the results raise alarm bells for the over 60 million people who rely on the Mekong Delta for their livelihoods.

  • Dolphin calves born in the Mekong

    04/14/2016

    The Mekong River now has so many dams that one of the world’s mightiest rivers could almost run dry. In the dry season, river levels do in fact become dangerous for the rare river dolphins, Orcaella brevirostris Illegal fishermen and stranding opportunities increase, but the good news this March, as river levels rise again, is that no animals were lost and 3 calves were born near the delta. 688 river guards protect the dolphins and the river in Cambodia and the Lao PDR, and that investment surely must be helping! The WWF report the story here.

    Many plants and animals rely on the might flow of the Mekong, with 1100 fish species alone, thousands of insects, mammals, amphibians, birds and reptiles well-known to researchers. The dolphins feed on fish, cephalopods and crustacea, facing intense competition from humpback and bottlenose dolphins when at the coast. Perhaps the 90 or so dolphins in Lao PDR and Cambodia can act as suitable emblems of the extinction possibilities threatening the rainforest and the riverine species. This dolphin is classed as Vulnerable, according to the IUCN Red Book classification, like many others of its order and so many others in the rapidly disappearing habitats around SE Asia.

  • Sino–Japanese competition heats up over Myanmar’s SEZs

    04/11/2016

    China and Japan are eager to be involved in massive special economic zone (SEZ) projects in Myanmar, amid rising economic competition in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS). Since 2011, Myanmar has rapidly improved its diplomatic relations with the West and Japan in order to broaden its economic relations and mitigate its excessive dependence on China.

  • Vietnam seeks Netherlands’ help in preserving water in Mekong Delta

    04/05/2016

    Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Chu Pham Ngoc Hien made the call at the fifth meeting of the Vietnam – Netherlands Intergovernmental Committee on Climate Change Adaptation and Water Management in Hanoi on March 30.

    He noted that the issue had been raised in the committee’s fourth meeting but so far no suitable partners were found for the work.

    The Deputy Minister highlighted the success of Mekong Delta Plan, adding that after reviewing the recommendations made by the plan, Vietnam realised that more in-depth measures are needed to improve water management in the Delta.

  • The Mekong River winding through the flooded forest in Cambodia.

    China’s its own worst enemy in regional relations

    04/01/2016

    China’s pattern of regional conduct has come increasingly into focus in recent times. Its behaviour is much less about maintaining the ‘status quo’, and much more about revising the established dynamics and contours in the region to its preferences. This revisionism is likely to become the primary source of tensions and potential conflict in Southeast Asia.

    A view of the dam at the Jinghong Hydropower Station on the Lancang River, the Chinese section of the Mekong River, in Jinghong city, Yunnan province, 20 May 2013. (Photo: AAP).

    Nowhere are China’s revisionist aims more evident than in the South China Sea and the upper reaches of the Mekong River, which straddles southern China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

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