Mekong water level drops putting 60 million people at risk

The level of the Mekong River has fallen to “abnormal” levels, threatening the livelihoods of 60 million people living along its lower course.

The river starts in China and winds its way for 4,350 km, crossing Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is vital for the region and the 200 million people whose lives depend on it, mostly from fishing and agriculture.

In addition to lower rainfall, down by 25 per cent below average since November 2019, Chinese dams have also cut the water flow.

Over the last period, the flow has dropped significantly at the Jinghong dam (Yunnan), which powers a hydroelectric power plant.

Winai Wangpimool, director of the Technical Support Division at the Mekong River Commission Secretariat, points out that the water flow fluctuates considerably between the Jinghong dam and the capital of Laos Vientiane.

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Tran Hung