MEKONG

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Japan pledges Bt245 bn for Mekong connectivity

Published May 15, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Japan-pledges-Bt245-bn-for-Mekong-connectivity-30285146.html

MEKONG

Visiting foreign minister hopeful of thailand taking a leading role after political stability

Japan yesterday launched the Japan-Mekong Connectivity Initiative, pledging 750 billion yen (Bt245 billion) for the development of linkages in the region for the next three years while hoping Thailand would be able to restore political stability quickly enough to become a leading partner for the scheme.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, who concluded his two-day visit to Thailand yesterday, announced the initiative during his policy speech at Chulalongkorn University to “set the tone” of Japanese presence in the region.

Connectivity is a key for regional integration, he said.

“Invigorating the flow of goods and people by connecting the region through roads, bridges and railways is indispensable for promoting economic development,” he said.

Japan expects Thailand could play a significant role in helping promote the development scheme.

“This initiative cannot be realised without cooperation from Thailand as a donor country. I hope that Thailand will work hand-in-hand with Japan to promote this framework,” Kishida said in his address to more than 100 attendees, mostly diplomats, academics, government officials and journalists.

Japan will also work with countries in the Mekong basin, which include Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam, to create a detailed framework to support the efforts of those countries, he said.

Kishida discussed the scheme with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, according to a Japanese official.

Japan’s new initiative for connectivity was put in the context of Japan-Mekong cooperation to highlight Japanese interest in the region, the official said, but dismissed an observation that it was created to compete with China’s recently launched Lanchang-Mekong Cooperation, whose first summit was held in Hainan in March.

Japan has had a great deal of cooperation with the Mekong Region for more than 20 years, the official said.

The political setback due to the 2014 military coup will obstruct Thailand from playing any leading role in regional development.

Kishida discussed political issues with Prayut, who is dealing with various domestic challenges including return to civilian rule.

“I strongly hope that the people of Thailand will overcome the current difficult challenge and play a more active role in the region and the international community,” Kishida said.

Prayut told him that his government was committed to the election road map and moving forward reform for “sustainable democracy” and good governance, a Thai official said.

A Japanese official who accompanied Kishida in the meeting said Prayut reassured the Japanese minister that more than 65,000 Japanese people and 4,500 Japanese companies in Thailand were in the good hands of the government.

Prayut and Kishida also discussed development in the Mekong region and the Thai prime minister mentioned the Dawei project in Myanmar. Thailand wants the Japanese to assume crucial roles in that development.

Kishida, who is in Myanmar today, told Prayut that Tokyo reassured Bangkok of the importance of the project, as it would be a key component of regional connectivity, according to a Japanese official.

During his speech at Chulalongkorn, Kishida made clear Japan’s stance on maritime security, notably on the ongoing tension in the South China Sea.

Japan has proclaimed three principles to address the issue, he said.

States shall make and clarify their claims based on international law, shall not use force to drive their claim and should seek peaceful means to solve the disputes, he said.

The meeting of Group of Seven foreign ministers in Hiroshima this month will strongly oppose any attempts to change the status quo in the South China Sea, he said.

“We must establish a regional order whereby the principle of the rule of law is truly upheld and practised.

“I would like to renew my call for the early conclusion of an effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea,” he said.

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USAID partners with lower Mekong universities and schools

Published April 9, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/USAID-partners-with-lower-Mekong-universities-and–30282679.html

MEKONG

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced a new partnership with 12 leading universities and vocational institutions in the lower Mekong sub-region in a bid to empower students with essential skills so they can thrive in the workplace.

“The United States is committed to developing youth potential, especially [that of] women,” said Todd Sorenson, acting director of the USAID Regional Development Mission for Asia.

“Youth need the technical skills, as well as work-readiness skills, including teamwork, communication and adaptability to succeed. The best way for youth to learn these skills is through hands-on experience with real workplace situations – by being connected with real employers, like those joining with us in this programme.”

According to industries in the lower Mekong, the need for skilled graduates is clear. In a recent USAID study of employers in the lower Mekong countries, more than 71 per cent indicated that they were looking to hire new staff to expand their businesses. Surveyed businesses also noted that they believed 60 per cent of their staff still needed work-readiness skills training.

Created by the USAID “Connecting the Mekong through Education and Training” programme, the MekongSkills2Work network taps into partnerships through the Mekong Learning Centres at universities and training institutions. These centres will work with industry partners such as Cisco, Intel, Google and Microsoft as well as other local employers to ensure students are receiving opportunities to learn from leading companies.

“Intel is committed to connecting today’s youth to their potential, empowering them to seize the opportunities made possible by the rapidly developing knowledge economy,” said Anjan Ghosh, regional director of corporate affairs for Asia Pacific and Japan, Intel Corporation.

“We believe that empowering youth through technology access, workplace readiness skills and innovation skills is essential to shape and drive the knowledge economy. Our global programmes empower faculty and students to keep pace with the demand for new skills required in today’s digital world.”

The institutions hosting Mekong Learning Centres will receive training and resources covering workforce development, pedagogy and technology, including teaching standards and tools to help instructors effectively prepare students for the demands of tomorrow’s labour market.

After a year of implementation within their own institutions, selected Mekong Learning Centres will work to adapt the MekongSkills2Work model and create a regional network of leaders in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, accounting and tourism. Lead instructors will develop and implement approaches learned through their own classes and throughout their institutions.

This week, instructors will take part in a five-day training programme to go beyond lectures to engage students and collaborate with industries in their fields to bridge the skill gaps between education and employment.

Selected as part of the competitive USAID Comet grants programme, the following universities and vocational schools will form a network of Mekong Learning Centres hosted at their institutions: University of Technology – Yatanarpon Cyber City (Myanmar); Institute of Technology Cambodia (Cambodia); University of Southeast Asia (Cambodia); National University of Laos; Lao National Institute of Tourism and Hospitality; Mahidol University (Thailand); Maptaphut Technical College (Thailand); Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology and Education (Vietnam); University of Economics (Vietnam); University of Danang (Vietnam); Hanoi University of Science and Technology (Vietnam); and Hue Industrial College (Vietnam)

China should compensate victims of dams: Mekong River network

Published April 8, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/China-should-compensate-victims-of-dams-Mekong-Riv-30282344.html

MEKONG

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha poses with other Mekong leaders joining the First Mekong-Lancang Cooperation Meeting at Sanya in China yesterday.

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha poses with other Mekong leaders joining the First Mekong-Lancang Cooperation Meeting at Sanya in China yesterday.

CHINA should apologise to people hit hard by their dams and compensate them for losses caused by changes in the river’s ecology, the Thai People in Eight Mekong Provinces Network said yesterday.

The group called on China and leaders of Mekong basin countries to accept that Chinese dams have caused problems and to set up a new mechanism, with public participation, to manage theMekong River.

The call came as Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha attended the First Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting at Sanya in China with the heads of Mekong River countries. This is a new China-led governmental cooperation agency for the Mekong basin, which has the principle of “Shared River, Shared Future”.

Montree Chantawong from the Foundation for Ecological Recovery said at the press conference in Bangkok that the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation leaders’ meeting was just an economic forum – and demanded that governments of Mekong basin countries really take an interest in the prolonged problems caused by Chinese dams for people in downstream countries.

“Our government and officials from the other five Mekong nations need to accept there are problems from the upstream dams. They have to listen to the people’s voices and allow public participation in the Mekong River management,” Montree said.

“We also want to urge China to minimise the impacts from their dams, apologise for their action to change the river ecology and remedy the affected people who have suffered from the effects of Chinese dams for more than 20 years.”

He emphasised that negative impacts felt by people downstream were caused by Chinese dams. The river flow record from the hydrological station in Chiang Saen district in Chiang Rai showed that since the first dam on the Mekong, the Manwan Dam, was completed in 1993, the flow of the river had changed unnaturally and very rapidly.

“The water flow in the Mekong River usually rose up gently and dried according to the season and amount of rainfall. But since the upstream dams began operating the water level increases and decreases quickly, so it can be seen that the water level graph is very steep,” he said.

“The change in the flow of the Mekong has damaged people’s livelihoods, culture and the river ecology. And there is no one paying attention to these problems and helping people.”

Jirasak Inthayot, coordinator of the Chiang Kong Mekong School of Local Knowledge, said that “cooperation” under the Mekong River Commission (MRC) was largely ineffective in ensuring that there was just management of the river, because it lacked public involvement.

Jirasak said people had suffered from the impact of the dams for a very long time, but the MRC failed to protect them. Moreover, representatives from Mekong River countries who participate in the MRC included officials who do not care about local people’s interests. The MRC also did not have any mechanism to allow public participation.

Ombun Thipsuna, from the Seven Northeastern Mekong Provinces Network, said the Mekong was an international river, so all countries needed to work together on water management, by allowing affected people to take part in such discussions.

Huge dam release kills Songkran for Mekong residents

Published April 8, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Huge-dam-release-kills-Songkran-for-Mekong-residen-30282149.html

MEKONG

River level surges after sudden china dam

PEOPLE who live near the Mekong won’t be able to enjoy Songkran in the middle of the river this year, because of the amount of water released from a Chinese dam.

The depth of this major river will not go down enough for higher parts of the riverbed to emerge, as usually happens at this time of the year.

Tourists usually look forward to going to these spots to enjoy recreational activities, with local operators offering to serve food and renting swimming floats, jet skis and other gear for their pleasure.

So when China announced earlier this month that it would release 2,000 cubic metres of water per second from the Jinghong-based dam into the Mekong from March 15 up to April 10, Thais living along the river were not very happy.

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Many officials, however, believe the water release will help drought-hit Thailand.

But locals said yesterday that the discharge went against the rules of nature.

“Such water discharges have hampered the ecological system. That’s why fish populations in the river have been clearly shrinking,” said Aomboon Thipsuna, a member of the council of community organisations based in the seven riparian provinces.

She believes China’s decision was not aimed at helping Thais struggling with the drought, but at facilitating commercial navigation in the waterway that flows through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

It is a major route for transporting cargo between these countries.

“The water from Chinese dams has pushed up the Mekong River even in the dry season,” Aomboon said.

“The water also came without pro-|per prior notice – too suddenly for |local people, who find it hard to adjust,” she said.

Fishermen and operators of tourism-related services along the Mekong in the dry season had suffered from the Chinese dams’ discharges, she said.

Winai Rompho from Ubon Ratchathani’s Pho Sai district said he used to earn Bt100,000 a year from fishing in the Mekong.

“But since China has operated its dams, I make less than Bt30,000 a year,” he said.

In Nakhon Pranom, Weerawat Khamdee said he was worried about the surge from the Chinese dam because he raised fish in floating cages in the river.

“Just like other farmers in the same trade, I have to recheck the strength of the cages.

“I also need to prepare medicine for my fish. I’m worried that the fish won’t be able to adjust to such drastic changes,” he said.

The level of the Mekong has increased by one to two metres since the Chinese dam started releasing water.

Many provinces in Thailand have been hit by water shortages. Smaller amounts of water have been released from dams to try to ensure that existing water supplies will be available for public consumption and to maintain ecological balance until the rainy season starts.

With less water from the dams, seawater intrusion is affecting some farms near Bangkok.

Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra has instructed wastewater treatment plants in the capital to deliver treated water to farms to help them scrape through the drought.

 

Water diplomacy by China offers drought relief

Published April 7, 2016 by SoClaimon

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Water-diplomacy-by-China-offers-drought-relief-30281969.html

MEKONG

Jinghong Dam in China

Jinghong Dam in China

Announces for the first time release of huge amounts of Mekong water

CHINA HAS embarked on an unprecedented “water diplomacy” mission to alleviate the ongoing drought in Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam by discharging massive quantities of fresh water downstream from one of its dams in its southern region.

The emergency water supply from the Chinese Jinghong hydropower station will last one month from March 15 until April 10, marking the first time China has informed downstream countries in advance of its water-discharge schedule, said Nuanla-or Wongpinitwarodom, director of the MekongRiver resources management office at the Department of Water Resources.

China had sent letters to all four member-countries of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) of its water-discharge plan to help ease the shortage of fresh water in downstream countries. The MRC consists of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, while China and Myanmar are dialogue partners.

China has never before informed MRC countries of its water resource management plan, she said, adding Chinese authorities also had expressed an intention to work more closely with downstream countries to solve their problems.

“Previously, we only learned of changes in the water level when told by residents in Chiang Saen [which borders Laos and other neighbouring countries],” said Nuanla-or.

China also assigned its diplomats in those countries to inform each government of the water discharge.

According to the Thai official, China has become more transparent in managing the cross-border water resources. Previously, downstream countries were critical of the lack of Chinese cooperation and transparency in water resources management as many dams were built upstream in Chinese territories, affecting water flow downstream.

Vietnam had urged China to discharge more water downstream to help ease the shortage of water, as the country needs fresh water for agriculture. According to Xinhua, the Vietnamese have hailed China’s water discharge in Mekong River as a cooperative move, with a senior official, Pham Hong Giang, saying the distance from Jinghong Hydropower Station to Vietnam’s Mekong River Delta is very long and there are many dry areas in need of water along the way.

The Mekong River originates in China and runs through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Since late last year, these countries have suffered from drought due to the impact of the El Nino phenomenon.

In Chaing Saen district in Thailand’s northern province of Chiang Rai, the water level in Mekong River started to rise rapidly on March 15 from 2.30-2.50 metres to 3.29 metres yesterday evening, benefiting the operation of river boats in China, Laos and Thailand which borders Laos and Myanmar.

The Chinese dam is about 325km long from Chiang Saen and about 2,000 cubic metres of water have been discharged per second from the upstream dam. Thai residents near the Mekong River have been informed in advance of the rapid rise of water level, which affects agriculture and fisheries in the waterway.

Meanwhile, Thai non-governmental organisations and residents have urged the MRC to include their representatives during meetings on water resources management while suggesting that massive discharge of water also has a negative impact on their way of life, affecting the seasonal activities during the dry season.

Jirasak Intarayos, coordinator of the Rak Chiang Kong group in Chiang Rai province, said local residents were never told of the cross-border water management plan but previously learned about the water discharge from Chinese boat operators.

“We have been campaigning for more than 10 years to have a representative voice on the MRC. We think China should not claim credit for discharging the water downstream. We want advance information on water management plans,” he said.

Pienporn Deetes, coordinator of International Rivers, said there must be a regional cross-border mechanism to discuss preparatory measures on the management of Mekong River as various countries have built dams that affect the future of Mekong River, including two new dams in Laos.

Meanwhile, Hu Weizhong, a senior official of Changjiang Water Resources Commission, said the dams on the upstream Mekong River in China play a very essential role in flood and drought prevention in the Mekong River Basin, especially when the region is facing threats from climate change.

“The dams have four main objectives: sustaining the aquatic ecology; generating hydropower; saving water for agriculture, industry and domestic consumption; and more importantly preventing flood and drought,” Hu said.

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