Water and wetlands: The Mekong's blood and heart



Tam Chim has initiated a permit system so that for $6/month per household local people are able to harvest grasses, fish, and other resources from the park Photo: IUCN

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On November 30-December 1, 2009, 40 representatives from government, NGO, and business from Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and Lao PDR met in HCMC to discuss the role of civil society in water resource management decision-making. The workshop was part of the Mekong Region Water Dialogues (MRWD), a project supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland to address water governance issues in the four Lower Mekong countries.

This meeting focused on wetlands management, particularly in the Vietnamese potion of the Mekong Delta. According to one of the presentations, the government of Vietnam has spent billions of dollars on flood control projects but the disruption of the delta’s natural hydrology has created new and unanticipated problems. Most significant is the increased potential for catastrophic floods as a result of the loss of the delta’s natural absorptive capacity.

The risks inherent in the structural approach to flood control, much beloved by government planners around the world, has led some of the region’s leading scientists to advocate for non-structural approaches, also known as ecosystem-based adaptation or EBA. EBA uses the sustainable management of ecosystems to provide services that enable people to adapt to both current climate variability and change. It increases the resilience and reduces the vulnerability of ecosystems and the people who depend on them.

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