(KPL) The Australian government has provided funding of AUD 430,000 (approx. USD 300,000) to support the Mekong River Commission to implement its initiative in reinvigorating its data, modeling and information systems to provide enhanced and timely information to the public and MRC member countries.

According to a letter from the Australian Embassy in Vientiane to the MRC Secretariat on May 9, 2019, the grant, which will be made available by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, will come in as a technical assistance form.

It will be implemented and managed by eWater – an Australian Government owned not-for-profit organization – from now until December 2020.

“This support further demonstrates Australia’s ongoing commitment to the MRC’s work, in recognition of its role as the primary platform for technical water cooperation in the Mekong region,” Australian Ambassador to the Lao PDR Jean-Bernard Carrasco said in the letter.

The reinvigoration of the MRC’s data and information system initiative, which has recently obtained endorsement from the MRC’s governing body Joint Committee at its 48th Meeting in Viet Nam’s Vung Tau city, will cover a wide range of areas.

These include integrated database and data management systems, data quality control and assurance process, document management system, modeling tools, and river monitoring and forecasting information and communication.

MRC Secretariat Chief Executive Officer An Pich Hatda said: “the main purpose is to provide faster reactions to address emerging changes, such as climate change or sudden water release from reservoirs in the Lancang-Mekong river basin, track basin state and development, and strengthen one of the MRC’s key roles as the regional knowledge hub.”

He added the initiative would have a multi-development partner support and cooperation and that he would welcome any assistance, be it financial or technical.

“Our team and experts from eWater are assessing the current situation and available data and information in house. By the end of the year, a detailed analysis and design concept will be ready for discussion and endorsement by our Joint Committee prior to implementing and for soliciting support from Development Partners,” CEO Hatda said. 

Australia has been one of the long-term Development Partners of the MRC since the birth of the commission in 1995, providing more than USD 27 million of fund.

Its continuous support for the MRC’s ongoing strategic work, together with support from other Development Partners, will strengthen the MRC’s profile as the region’s only treaty-based river basin organization that supports sustainable management and development of shared water resources for the countries’ mutual benefit and well-being of over 65 million people living in the lower Mekong basin.

KPL