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The Mekong River plays a central role in the lives of millions of people in South East Asia who depend on it for their food, water, income, and transportation. Yet it is precisely because of its importance that the river faces many challenges as the countries of the Lower Mekong – Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam -- look to the future.
It was with these challenges in mind that the four states of the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB) – Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam -- established the Mekong River Commission (MRC) in 1995 to help preserve the river basin’s natural resources and environment and promote regional economic growth. The two are interdependent, for the river is an engine of that growth, and thus growth depends on the river’s health. Yet economic growth demands energy, and many are looking to the Mekong’s huge hydropower potential to supply it. How to balance the region’s need for energy growth and revenues with the protection of the river’s eco-system upon which much of that growth will depend is one of the MRC’s most important and difficult challenges.
There is considerable interest in hydropower development on the Mekong and many proposals for dam construction have been put forward by the four countries and private businesses both on the river’s mainstream and its tributaries. Through its Initiative on Sustainable Hydropower, the MRC works with a range of partners to build their capacity, to conduct targeted studies and to share information to promote more sustainable hydropower in the region.
As part of the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) works with the four states of the Lower Mekong Basin and the MRC, providing technical assistance and capacity building through strategic tools and studies.
PROGRAM ACTIVITIES IN THE LOWER MEKONG BASIN
Participating Countries: Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam
Part of the LMI, ECO-Asia is a $29 million, seven-year regional project of USAID which was started in 2005 to promote sound environmental governance in Asia. Two of the project’s key components are described below.
Last updated: June 03, 2013