The CPWF worked in the Mekong from 2004-2014, during which time it operated two phases. During the first phase, CPWF activities in the region were coordinated by the Mekong River Commission, which oversaw the implementation of 12 projects. During the second phase, CPWF Mekong implemented 20 R4D projects across the Mekong River Basin, which spans six Southeast Asian countries (Lao PDR, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, China).

In the Mekong, the CPWF aimed to reduce poverty and foster development by optimizing the use of water in reservoirs.

CPWF-Mekong’s specific goals were that reservoirs would:

Be managed in ways that are fairer and more equitable to all water users.
Be managed and coordinated across cascades to optimize benefits for all.
Be planned and managed to account for environmental and social needs.
Be used for multiple purposes besides alone.
Be better governed and the benefits better shared.

You can learn more about CPWF-Mekong’s work, outputs and outcomes here.



Development of the Mekong, particularly for hydropower, is the single largest intervention to affect water use, management and productivity in the river basin today. Dams are vital to the economies and development potential of the basin’s countries, while reservoirs provide opportunities for irrigation and mitigating the impact of climate change. CPWF aimed to increase the benefits derived from reservoirs and minimize the negative impacts of these developments. In other words, CPWF Mekong set out to improve the livelihoods and ecological benefits derived from reservoirs and their catchments without impairing the economic and social gains they provide. The program also tried to see if additional benefits could be derived through changes in reservoir management and dam operation, again without affecting already projected economic and social gains from these dams. CPWF Mekong aimed to learn if these benefits could be further increased through sequential dam management, both within countries and across borders. The overarching issue of improved water and hydropower governance required to enable and deliver these benefits were addressed by creating platforms for dialogues between the many stakeholders involved across the region.

In the end, CPWF had 76 formal partners and was the largest R4D network in the region.  As a dynamic, multi-disciplinary, multi-national, multi-scale research-for-development network that delivers world-class research and generates significant developmental impacts, these achievements are commonly considered to be the program’s most significant outcomes.

CPWF Mekong’s projects were scaled; at the lowest level, the program looked at individual dam sites, through catchments, and, finally, at the basin scale. At the lowest scale, CPWF-Mekong studied the Lower Sesan 2, a dam planned for construction in northeastern Cambodia; the Yali Falls Dam, in the Central Highlands of Vietnam; and the Theun Hinboun Expansion Project, a dam under construction in central Lao PDR.

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