The swirling currents of the once mighty Mekong, shrunk by drought and increasingly crippled by dams point towards an unprecedented crisis of water governance along the more than 4,900 kilometers of southeast Asia’s longest river.
“This is the worst ecological disaster in history of the Mekong,” declared Chainarong Setthachua, natural resources expert at Thailand’s Maha Sarakham University. “It should be a massive wakeup call for policymakers and leaders of the region.” After the July drought and the lowest water levels in more than a hundred years, water levels have still not recovered. “The water in the Mekong River has fallen to a critical level. Sand islands are now exposed along many sections of the waterway,” the Bangkok Post reported in October.