to improve the governance and management of water resources and associated land and ecosystems in the Greater Mekong Region by generating and sharing the knowledge and practice needed to do so.
We need water for everything
Several great rivers traverse the Greater Mekong. Combined, the Irrawaddy, the Mekong, the Red and the Salween rivers discharge 1,104 km3 of waters into the seas around the region.
RiversRivers connect the ocean to the interior, and all of the region’s rivers are essential to shipping and the transport of cargo. In Vietnam, about 73% of cargo and about 27% of passengers travel by water annually.
In the Mekong River Basin, there are 66 hydropower dams, another 37 are under construction and 93 are planned. All of these contribute significantly to national and regional development through the electricity they supply. And for the countries that export electricity, hydropower provides valuable revenue flows to national treasuries.
- 0Current Dams
- 0Under Construction
The largest consumer of water in the region is forest. Almost half of the Greater Mekong’s area is covered in forest – 1.2 million hectares. In the Mekong, forests consume 52% of water consumed by various uses.
The fisheries of the region are vast. The Tonle Sap fishery in Cambodia is considered the largest freshwater fishery in the world. From the Mekong system as a whole, an estimated 2 million tonnes of fish are landed annually, an additional 2 million tonnes of fish are cultured, and about 0.5 million tonnes of ‘Other Aquatic Animals’ (snakes, frogs, snails etc) are caught. Fish and other aquatic animals are central to regional diets and nutrition.
Irrigation is an immense feature of the Greater Mekong landscape. In the Irrawaddy River Basin, there are 118 irrigation reservoirs of 0.5 km2 and above; in northeastern Thailand, there are 143. Because of irrigation Thailand is the world’s largest rice exporter (in 2015), and Vietnam its third largest.
The Greater Mekong exhibits some of the highest biodiversity in the world, second only to the Amazon. Every year, new species of plants, reptiles, amphibians, mammals, insects and fish are discovered here. Water drives this colossal ecosystem and its productivity.
Little is known about what the impacts are of dams, reservoirs, and land concessions on the region’s rivers.
WLE Greater Mekong contributes to alleviating these knowledge deficits, accompanied by a robust framework to ensure that, when decisions are made about water, they are supported by evidence and sound analysis. In order to do so, all of WLE’s activities within the Greater Mekong address two or more of the following objectives. Hover over each icon to read more about each: