VietNamNet Bridge – Residents living in the Mekong River basin are
expressing concerns over water degradation in the Mekong river and its
impact on farming, aquaculture and the livelihood of the millions of
people who live in the region.
People from Cambodia, Thailand and Viet Nam's Cuu Long
(Mekong) Delta raised concerns last Thursday at a forum held by
the Viet Nam River Network, Save the Mekong, the Southern Institute of
Ecology and An Giang University, saying that their lives have changed
negatively due to the changes in the river's water level.
asked scientists, policymakers and governments to find proper solutions
to balance the use of water between countries and sectors in order to
ensure their livelihood and the future of the basin in the coming
There are currently five big dams in operation along the
Mekong river with 12 more dams proposed, which are expected to take a
huge volume of water from the river, change its natural flow and destroy
the fish habitat.
More than 130 scientists, farmers and
officials from related agencies joined the forum. Representing farmers
from Ca Mau Province, in the country's southern-end, Huynh Thi Kim Duyen
said she and local residents have observed more erosion to the river
banks in their neighbourhood.
Duyen, who is a member of the
province's Women's Association and also a farmer, is aware of the change
of natural flow resulting in erosion, giving no conclusion in the
changes over upper power dams or impact the impact on climate change.
she noted that a small dam built on Quang Lo - Phung Hiep has turned
the canal into a dead one. "I think the bigger dams would worsen the
impact of the rivers that are tributaries of the Mekong River," she
"Erosion and declining fish populations have affected the
lives of locals. People have to migrate from the erosion prone sites and
move to urban areas to find jobs," Duyen also said.
Chanthy, a Cambodian farmer said similar situations have also happened
in his community. Lower water volume in the Mekong River has affected
his cultivation, while increasing pollution has hindered his
Research over the last five years has shown that
income from agroproducts and fishing by residents living in the basin
have fallen critically. Omboun Thipsuna, representing seven of
Thailand's north-eastern provinces, blamed power dams for causing the
unnatural, sudden floods and the unexpected droughts that happen in the
Thipsuna said changes in the water volume along the
Mekong Delta has affected the livelihood of farmers and fishermen. In
Bung Kan, for example, the average income from fishing declined from
37,000 THB (US$1,200) to 5,000 THB ($166) a year in the past five years.
Meanwhile, agricultural income dropped from 3,800 THB to 28,800 THB a
Speaking at the forum, Dr Duong Van Ni of Can Tho University
confirmed the phenomenon observed by farmers and fishermen. "Water in
the Mekong River has shown signs of changes in water volume and water
quality," he said.
"Fish populations have fallen by one third
recently," he added, according to research he conducted in Cambodia and
Viet Nam. Ni forecasted a critical shortage of water for cultivation in
Cambodia's Tonle Sap and Viet Nam's Cuu Long (Mekong) deltas.
at the forum said power dams have changed the water volume and water
flow of the Mekong River and concerns by residents living in the river
basin are reasonable. They are calling governments and policymakers to
sit down together to reach an agreement on how to properly share water
from the river.