In June, MWD Team got together in Inlay Lake, Myanmar, to review MWD project implementation during the first half of 2012 and agree on the plan of activities for the rest of the year. From January to June 2012, several MWD activities were undertaken in Thailand, Cambodia, Lao PDR and Viet Nam.
For example, in Cambodia, the Team organised a celebration of World Wetland Day in Phnom Penh. There were around 600 people involved representing different groups in society. In relation to this, a field visit to Chong Khneas, Siem Reap was organized for representatives from academic institutes, government agencies and NGOs. The MWD National Working Group met in April in Siem Reap to discuss and share result of Boeung Chhmar Ramsar Site boundary demarcation. A consultation workshop on this issue was also conducted . MWD also worked with the Ministry of Environment and BirdLife International to conduct the ground boundary checking at Boeung Chhmar Ramsar Site, to verify the real location of the Ramsar boundary and make it easy to erect boundary posts visible to the public. In addition, the team provided technical support to the provincial technical taskforces from Siem Reap and Kampong Thom provinces.
In Thailand, the MWD National Working Group has worked closely with different groups in Kanglawa Wetland, Khon Kaen Province, to discuss the issues related to floods, drought and local livelihoods. In May, MWD supported local authorities to organise a workshop on sustainable management of the Kanglawa Wetland. Gender is a cross-cutting issue which is merged smoothly into different MWD activities. There was a workshop solely dedicated for Indigenous women to discuss about water resources management, food security and climate change adaptation. The Team also assessed the Chi River Basin Organisation in its performance against global standards for river basin management functions. Regarding the Tai Baan Research, MWD collaborated with the Thailand Research Fund to look into water resources management, cultural-natural-community-based tourism and promotion of biodiversity-based economy and food security. A handbook “Six Steps to conduct Tai Baan Research” is to be published in August for dissemination.
In Lao PDR, after organising a consultation workshop on co-management plan of Beung Kiat Nong with the Ramsar site-level management team, the draft was made available. It was reviewed by experts and translated into English. The Ramsar National Steering Committee will have it published and disseminated at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Korea in September. In the meantime, the implementation of the organic fertilizer activity in Beung Kiat Nong is on-going. MWD and Sumernet co-funded a fish trade study led by IUCN Lao PDR working together with MWD national and regional partners. The study areas covers the fish market chain in Thailand, Lao PDR and Cambodia. Data collection and field work are already completed. There will be a workshop in November and a report is to be published. It is expected that a short documentary on fish trade will also be produced and released later this year.
For Viet Nam, the MWD National Working group meeting will be held twice a year (in addition to their participation in the regional meeting of NWGs from all four countries). The first meeting was in July. The second one will be at the end of 2012. Some members participated in the Mekong2Rio, Mekong River Commission event held in Phuket, Thailand. MWD supported the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to organise a World Wetland Day event in Tram Chim which was designated as the fourth Ramsar site of Viet Nam (and the 2,000th Ramsar site of the world) with MWD support. Preparation for designation of the Mui Ca Mau National Park is in progress. With support from MWD, the Viet Nam Rivers Network provided opportunities for civil society input into the process of developing an updated Water Law. Furthermore a round table and workshop were organised with National Assembly Members to discuss civil society’s inputs and MWD perspectives on the draft new water law. Later in the year, MWD will assit the government in dissemination of the new law after it is approved. Support was provided to Can Tho University to assess costs and benefits of large-scale water resources management infrastructure in Mekong Delta. Accordingly, there were 3 provincial teams established. Recommendations on gaps in relation to the Strategic Environment Assessment of Mekong mainstream dams in were provided to the government. A number of provincial consultations are being undertaken and a final workshop will be held in November. Two IUCN publication "Share" and "Negotiate" were translated into Vietnamese (as well as into Lao and Khmer) MWD will work with the United Nations Democracy Fund to organize a journalist training on water management in August.
"Although there has been intensive list of activities undertaken over the last 6 months, there are challenges for us - for example infrastructure development on the Mekong mainstream which is currently concerning all lower Mekong countries and capturing the attention of the global media.. We will have to work harder and in cooperation with other stakeholders to ensure sound decisions are made", said Robert Mather, Head of IUCN's Southeast Asia Group and MWD Project Manager.
By Dararat Weerapong