The CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems is pleased to showcase the seven winning projects of its ‘2015 Opportunity Fund Grant’. These small grants are going towards funding projects which specifically contribute towards WLE Greater Mekong’s goal of improving 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.
Opportunity Funded Projects
Developing data exchange relations between Red River Basin countries
Institute of Water Resources Planning, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Vietnam
Kunming Institute of Botany, China
There is no institutional facility (such as a river basin organisation) for managing the Red River across China and Vietnam. Nevertheless, the river has significant strategic value for both countries. In addition, no mechanisms exist for China to share research data on the river and its basin with Vietnam, or vice versa. This initiative would seek to establish a nascent mechanism by which such data could be shared. It calls for a series of meetings between Chinese and Vietnamese officials to identify the types of data that can be shared, and to forge the relationships needed in order for this to occur. These engagements would also pave the way for the development of a larger proposal to seek funding for the initiative over a longer period of time.
Engagement of local authorities in analysing and managing community water and land resources
Centre for Development Oriented Research in Agriculture and Livelihood Systems, Cambodia
Santuk District of Kampong Thom province is located in the Tonle Sap catchment, and is rich in water and land-related resources. In principle, small scale resources are directly managed by commune councils and district authorities. However, the commune councils have done mainly the administrative work and limited the provision of the services related to resource governance. Community people – particularly women and poor households – have gradually lost access to community resources. This project will uses a participatory approach to engage local authorities to actively analyse the local problems and define appropriate solutions to integrate into their local planning.
Replanting lost-forests after hydropower dam construction: policy and practice in Vietnam
Centre for Resources and Sustainable Development (CRSD), Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry, Vietnam
This study aims to evaluate the formulation and implementation of forest replanting policy after hydropower dam construction in Vietnam to draw lessons learnt to other countries in Mekong river basin promoting hydropower dam construction. The project’s findings will be brought forward to local and national policy making forums/discussions for improved forest policy formulation.
Decentralization of Hydropower Decision-making in Laos and Its Challenges
Faculty of Law and Political Science, National University of Laos
In 2012, the Government of Laos (GoL) amended the Law on Electricity, which decentralized hydropower decision-making power. Now, district authorities can make decisions on hydropower of less than 5 MW, while provincial authorities have the power to authorize hydropower dams of 5-15 MW. GoL and the National Assembly must authorize anything larger. These changes have been controversial amongst academics, many of whom question whether or not local authorities have the capacity and expertise to make these decisions. The research proposed will focus on local authorities to discover the pressures, conditions and capabilities that together inform their hydropower decision-making; and evaluate whether or not they are, in fact, qualified to make these decisions. The evaluation of ‘qualification’ will be judged by reflecting on the knowledge, education and experience of local authorities who make decisions about hydropower.
Identification of opportunities between the MRC and Mekong regional capacity building networks to cooperate in training young professionals to work in Mekong IWRM context and regional cooperation
This project will investigate the opportunities and possibilities for cooperation in implementing the Junior Riparian Professional (JRP) Project cooperatively between the Mekong River Commission and other comparable capacity building networks in the region (for example, WLE Capacity Building and Professional Development projects, Sumernet, Oxfam, EarthRights etc). Because the MRC is decentralising and closing its programmes, personnel and supervisory resources within it are declining, endangering the project. One solution is to provide on-the-job training supervision for future JRPs outside of MRC in order to ensure the sustainable continuation of the JRP project.
Assessment of benefits to different gender and ethnic groups from MK1 project pilots in Yali HP area for scaling-up livelihood enhancement in Mekong region
Soils and Fertilizers Research Institute
In the Mekong Basin, a persistent problem associated with hydropower development is the displacement or relocation of local communities due to the construction of reservoirs and related infrastructure. This causes a dramatic change in livelihoods and food security of many communities. Under the CPWF Project on Optimizing Water Storage Infrastructure for Livelihoods (MK 1) project, in 2012 pilot trials with a new short duration cassava variety at 2 locations (Sa Binh and Yali commune) in the Yali reservoir area revealed that the KM98-7 cassava is a suitable crop cultivated in the reservoir drawdown area to avoid flood risk and to provide higher incomes from higher yield and starch content but lower inputs. In 2013, district and commune authorities planned to scale-up the cultivation of KM98-7 cassava around the Yali reservoir. This project sets out obtain an in-depth understanding of how women/men and the Kinh/Jarai groups benefit differently from the increases in income from successful MK1 pilots and factors underlying these differences; it will examine the driving factors affecting the progress of extending KM98-7 cassava in the drawdown area of the Yali reservoir; and it will continue to support the implementation of scaling-up plan of district and commune authorities with new findings.
Water infrastructure data collection of the major rivers in Yunnan Province , China
Asian International Rivers Center, Yunnan University
The main goal of the project is to fill information gaps on the database of water infrastructure in Yunnan Province. Yunnan Province is located upstream of many of Southeast Asia’s Great Rivers and is in the upper reaches of all four basins where the WLE works. Many of these international rivers are facing rapid hydroelectricity development activity with 50 large hydropower plants and over 200 small hydropower plants being planned or under construction currently. Despite this rapid transformation of the basins, there is no comprehensive statistical database and little information has been shared for the public or scientific researchers. This project will improve the information around these infrastructure projects through sources such as hydropower company yearbook reviews, multi-source data analysis, field surveys and hydropower station interviews.