The Mekong River Commission’s (MRC) annual report, published 16 June, includes a noteworthy statement calling for increased transparency from China over upstream dam operations on the river. The Mekong is Southeast Asia’s longest river and acts as a lifeline to 60 million people.
Downtream Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam all suffered severe drought in 2019 as the river fell to record lows while upstream dams in China reportedly held “above-average natural flow”, withholding water and compounding the drought.
MRC notes that China has previously agreed to continue providing water-level and rainfall data to the Commission during flood season, starting from June 1 until October 31, every year for five years. This near real-time data provided by China, MRC says, has enabled downstream Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam to strengthen river water-level monitoring and improve the accuracy of flood forecasting as well as mitigate the negative effects of flooding.