The Third Pole

Interview: Pou Sothirak on protecting the Mekong and powering Cambodia

Previously secretary of state at the Foreign Affairs Ministry for the Cambodian government, Pou Sothirak is executive director of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace. He is a tireless campaigner for the ecology and communities of the Lower Mekong and particularly Tonle Sap, Southeast ...

Tyler Roney

Cambodian farmers can no longer rely on the Tonle Sap lake

“I’ve seen lower yields on my farm each year since maybe 2017 or 2018 – there just isn’t enough water,” says Yoeum Yoeut. Yoeut, 52, is a lifelong resident of the Baran district in Cambodia’s northwest Battambang province. Her livelihood has always depended on the natural flooding ...

Gerald Flynn, Phoung Vantha

Volatile Mekong threatens birds’ nest

Just 50 metres from the Mekong, in the shadow of a discarded plastic cup, a lone chick sits camouflaged on the sand. It is a newly hatched small pratincole in Bueng Kan province, northeast Thailand.  “I recorded 15 nests on the beach, smaller numbers compared with previous ...

Tyler Roney

New platform aims to reveal dam and climate impacts on the Mekong

A new monitoring platform that uses satellite imagery to track dam reservoir levels on the Mekong can shed light on the contentious issue of how the river’s precious water is stored, and the effects of climate change. The disruption to water and sediment flows along the ...

Chris Humphrey

Opinion: Tensions rise along the Mekong as science meets strategy

China has been ramping up its investments with the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation mechanism, which – according to American officials – is an attempt to compete with the Mekong River Commission (MRC). A competition over who dominates scientific and technical knowledge of the river indicates an escalation in the complexity of challenges ...

Giulio Boccaletti

Opinion: Did China close Mekong tap? Data matters for cooperation

Recent reports claim definitive proof that the 2019-20 Mekong drought was caused by China – researchers at the Australia Mekong Partnership for Environmental Resources and Energy Systems (AMPERES) disagree. Will the controversial analysis further polarise stakeholders, or could the crisis shift regional cooperation into more productive spaces? The ...

Tarek Ketelsen; Timo Räsänen; John Sawdon

Mekong dams destroy Tonle Sap Lake

As the Tonle Sap floodplain empties into the Mekong this spring, the Cambodians who rely on these waters face bleak prospects, with fish catches reportedly 10 to 20% of previous years. Blame for the precipitous decline in the ecology has been put on the many hydropower projects ...

Tyler Roney

China builds in Myanmar’s conflict areas

A year ago, Myanmar and China signed an agreement to establish the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC), as part of China’s Belt and Road global infrastructure initiative. Today, that corridor is mired in conflict between the Myanmar military and ethnic armed groups. Stretching 1,700 kilometres, the CMEC’s ...

Nicholas Lo

Southeast Asia and the right to safe water

On 6 November, the Mekong River Commission acknowledged that climate change had exacerbated this year’s wildly varying water levels on the Mekong – which saw the mighty river reduced to a trickle in parts, even during the rainy season. But the main contributor, it said, ...

Sam Geall

The curse of hydropower?

As the world continues to suffer from climate change impacts, decarbonisation of the global economy is one of the most urgent needs faced by governments. This, though, will never be the only axis on which strategic political and economic decisions are taken. With more than a ...

Omair Ahmad

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