All eyes on Chinese dams as Mekong countries count down to the monsoon

Researchers are worried that Chinese dams will hold back much of the water in the Mekong River this year, similar to last year’s erratic flow after the monsoon which exacerbated the drought in the Northeast of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

China’s dams have recently contributed towards aggravating the drought in the Northeast of Thailand and other lower Mekong countries like Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, according to a group of researchers in the United States.

There is no direct relationship between the drought in the northern provinces of Thailand and China’s dams, but China’s water restrictions have worsened the drought in the provinces, the researchers said.

“We are not saying that dams in China cause the drought in Thailand’s Khon Kaen province and Vietnam; what we are saying is that it exacerbates drought in the lower Mekong mainstream,” said Brian Eyler, Southeast Asia programme director at Stimson Centre and author of the “Last Days of the Mighty Mekong”.

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