According to Al Jazeera’s recent article the “Mekong River plunged to its lowest level in 20 years.”
The Mekong river originates in China and flows south through the Tibetan Plateau, and along the border of Burma, Laos, Thailand, through Cambodia and out its delta in Vietnam.
Al Jazeera interviewed Andrew Walker, a researcher at Australian National University, who suggests that the dams are for hydropower, and aren’t for anything other than energy generation. Walker elaborated saying,
“There might be some minor fluctuations given the balance between dam filling and release, in comparison to the effect of the very low rainfall throughout the region over the past year….Water shortages in the dry season in Southeast Asia are not unusual at all.”
Experts within the basin have a different attitude. Witoon Permpongsarcheren of the Mekong Energy and Ecology Network said:
“..upward of the Golden Triangle there are no main tributaries from Laos…So whatever is happening with the flow at the Golden Triangle is almost 100 per cent from China.”
This seems to be a classic case of the upstream riparian holding all the cards. That is to say, China has the economic clout, military strength, and upstream hydrology.
The Mekong River Commission (MRC), formed in 1995 (after many decades of nascence) is comprised of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. The absence of China in the MRC makes comprehensive water management plans impossible.
This month, WaterSecurity will explore the emergence of the MRC, other state and non-state actors in the Basin, as well as the future of this basin in terms physical drivers such as climate change and social drivers such as China’s longterm energy demand.
I was astonished when I searched “water security” in google, and didn’t come across a blog of the same title. Granted many useful website pop up (including FAO, UNESCO, EPA), but nothing in the form of a digest that keeps track of all things water security.
So, in the absence of a suitable blog I’m making one to fill that gap. It is my hope that this blog can ultimately be of similar value as many other well known waterwonk blogs, such as WaterWired, Aquafornia, WaterSIS, and Chance of Rain. You can follow the posts of this blog on Twitter (twitter name: watersecurity), or just come back every now and then to see a new post.
What’s with the Banner pic Pat?
Regional, National, and International security are all founded upon the consistent and reliable functioning of the natural environment, specifically access to water resources and all of the benefits water provides for society including drinking, sanitation, transport, and food production.
Most of the largest watersheds in the world are transboundary in nature, and as a result, form the basis for either international conflict or cooperation. I am particularly fascinated by the huge diversity of issues and actors in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Groundwater, surface water, atmospheric moisture, and even virtual water all coalesce into a complex and seemingly intractable hydrologic network,that underlies a similarly complex geopolitical landscape.
The blog’s content will not be limited to water & security issues in the MENA region, but its likely that they will feature relatively prominently.