Transboundary Water Resources Management in the Lower Mekong Basin

Transboundary Water Resources Management in the Lower Mekong Basin


Cooperation between riparian countries of the Lower Mekong Basin with the support from the Mekong River Commission (MRC) has been strengthened


GIZ supports the MRC to address the development challenges in the Mekong River Basin, especially on sustainable hydropower development and climate change adaptation. The programme strengthens the ongoing organizational development including the decentralization reform of the MRC in various areas as well as the financial management reform. GIZ works directly with experts and managers of the MRC Secretariat and, where applicable, also provides support to the National Mekong Committees in each member country. Through these approaches, the programme is contributing to strengthening cooperation between the riparian countries.

GIZ contributes to translating MRC’s gender policy and strategy into the implementation of its work at the strategic, organizational, and operational levels. Among others, GIZ supported MRC in conducting a gender analysis and developing a Gender Action Plan (GAP). GIZ also participated in the update of the Strategic Plan gender indicators, which allows the MRC to consistently and continuously mainstream gender into key activities and to systematically monitor its gender mainstreaming efforts.

Approach/Field of intervention

The project is based on a “push and pull” approach, advising MRC with the development of strategic instruments at the regional level and supporting Member Countries with the application of these instruments at the local level, through the implementation of joint initiatives. The project aims to achieve the following outputs:

  • Implementation of the MRC Strategic Plan
  • Piloting of joint environmental monitoring on mainstream dams
  • Coordination of flood and drought management between Cambodia and Thailand

Targeted beneficiaries

Population in the Lower Mekong Basin, approx. 65 million people, as well as specialist and executive personnel in the MRC Secretariat, the National Mekong Committees and member country line ministries with their provincial and local agencies as intermediaries.

Highlight activities /Achievements

With support from Germany, MRC has contributed to improving the knowledge base on water resources, developing a shared vision for the basin, making the MRC a more efficient organisation and improving the cooperation mechanisms between member countries. MRC is now on its way to becoming a world leading organisation in the field of transboundary water cooperation, receiving increasing political and financial support. More recently, MRC has achieved the following:

  • Undertaken an in-depth review of the Strategic Plan 2016-2020
  • Drafted a comprehensive guideline on the Joint Environmental Monitoring of Mainstream Hydropower Projects (JEM)
  • Finalized the design of two pilots to test the Joint Environmental Monitoring Programme and launched the implementation of the pilots in 2020
  • Identified priority mitigation measures to jointly manage floods and droughts at the border area between Cambodia and Thailand (9C/9T)
  • Developed digital 9C/9T Basin-Atlas and catalogue of Nature Based Solutions as Decision Support Tool for joint transboundary water management
  • Drafted Floods and Droughts Master Plan in the 9C-9T sub-basin


Success stories

Joint Environment Monitoring Programme

The Joint Environment Monitoring Programme (JEM) for Mekong Mainstream Hydropower Projects was approved by Mekong River Commission Member Countries during the regional meeting of the Expert Group on Environmental Management in May 2019. The agreement also covered the two pilot project proposals for Don Sahong and Xayaburi hydropower projects to test the monitoring approaches for hydrology and hydraulics, sediment and geomorphology, water quality, aquatic ecology, and fish and fisheries. After securing GIZ funding and technical support, the inception phase started in November 2019 and in February 2020 the MRC held an Expert Group meeting attended by sectoral experts of all four MRC Countries. During the expert group, Dr. Wachiraporn Kumnerdpet, the director of the Environmental Assessment Sub-division of the Thai Office of the National Water Resources (ONWR) said that “JEM is the right way of fact-finding done by scientific data-collection which we really need to create the balance of future development on the Mekong mainstream”. The regional monitoring programme addresses the need to determine impacts, including transboundary impacts, of mainstream hydropower projects. It distinguishes between project-specific induced changes to the basin from the cumulative basin-wide impacts of all other developments. Assessment of the impact of a specific project is therefore vital to identify relevant adaptive management approaches to avoid, minimise, and mitigate negative impacts on different levels.

”JEM is the right way of fact-finding done by scientific data-collection which we really need to create the balance of future development on the Mekong mainstream”

Dr. Wachiraporn Kumnerdpet, Director of Environmental Assessment Sub-division, Office of the National Water Resources, Thailand (February 2020).

Joint Project on Flood and Drought Management

The Joint Project on Flood and Drought Management in the Cambodia-Thai Border Area was initiated by governments of both countries in 2018. The project is covering the Tonle Sap 9C-9T sub-basin, out of which 27% is in Thailand and the remaining 73% in Cambodia. During the first phase from 2018 to 2019, an assessment of flood and drought risks in the subbasin was conducted. Also, elements of a Floods and Drought Master Plan were developed to address the risks. The assessment identified five priority areas, 18 potential mitigation, and adaptation project concepts, and several options for Cambodia – Thailand transboundary governance mechanisms. During the second phase from 2020 to 2021, the Floods and Drought Master Plan was developed, along with online 9C-9T Basin Atlas and a concept for project sustainability.


ASIA , Cambodia , Laos , Thailand , Viet Nam


January 2019 - December 2021

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