The Precarious State of the Mekong

The author Tucker Elliot wrote in “The Rainy Season” about the volatile nature of the Mekong: 

“No matter the border, the Mekong has been an indiscriminate giver and taker of life in Southeast Asia for thousands of years. It’s a paradox like civilization’s other great rivers – be it the Nile, Indus, Euphrates, Ganges, or China’s Sorrow, the Huang He – for without its waters life is a daily struggle for survival; yet with its waters life is a daily bet that natural disasters and diseases will visit someone else’s village, because it’s not if, but when it’s going to happen that’s the relevant question.”

Generations of people along the Mekong, which flows through six countries, have long had a profound, even spiritual bond with the mighty river: from the highlands of Tibet through the Golden Triangle down to the Mekong Delta, it is one of the most biodiverse freshwater regions in the world, rivaled only by that of the Amazon. For centuries, the transboundary Mekong has been Southeast Asia’s lifeline for millions of people and wildlife. Long considered the “most productive place on Earth” for fishermen and farmers who have come to depend on it, things have changed dramatically for the river’s fortunes, most notably in the last decade.

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Nicholas Muller