The 2nd Regional National Working Group (RNWG) meeting of the Mekong Region Water Dialogues (MRWD), programme of IUCN's Asia office was organized in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam from November 30th to December 1st, 2009.
National Working Group (NWG) members representing government departments, private organizations, community representatives, and the academia participated in the two day Regional National Working Group meet.
The overall agenda of the meeting was to review the progress and achievements of NWG for the year 2009. The meeting also focused on identifying key issues related to the strengthening of NWG and charts the course along with activities to be undertaken by NWG for the year 2010.
The Situational Analysis paper on Water Governance has been able to identify areas and issues which are strong and weak in relation to water governance in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Viet Nam. To strengthen MRWD process, a variety of partnerships have been established both at a regional and country levels like ADB, UNESCAP and FAO at a regional level while at country level, partnerships have been established with Can Tho University, WWF in Viet Nam and National University of Laos in Lao PDR.
Discussions also focused on including more stakeholders from various other groups and it was decided to include more participants from the private sector and community organizations within the NWGs.
Apart from the one day discussion, there was also a field trip to Tram Chim National Park in the Dong Thap Province. The Tram Chim National Park is home to a variety of migratory birds which includes the Sarus Crane, a species marked as endangered under the IUCN Red Book. Wetlands management has been successful to a great extent in Viet Nam and Tram Chim is an example of that. However, conversion of wetland areas across the region for rice cultivation was a cause of concern highlighted by the participants.
Development projects in Viet Nam and Thailand on the Mekong river to a great extent has reduced water flow for the wetlands and the ecosystem. Lao PDR and Cambodia which still contributes a significant flow to the Mekong is also undergoing rapid transition like building of dams and conversion of wetland for agricultural purposes which was highlighted as an issue to deal with. At the end of the workshop, participants agreed to increase and strengthen the NWG membership in the respective countries, conduct various studies on dams, groundwater, and get involved in advocating important policy issues with the respective government.