Countries need to join hands to protect the environment of the Mekong River basin


The Mekong River originates in the Tibetan Plateau flows through Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam before reaching the sea. The Mekong River creates a vast fishing environment and fertile plains for the people who live beside the river. This river is the main source of water and the source of life for more than 70 million people, especially those downstream in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

It is worrying that the environment of the Mekong River Basin is being seriously threatened, directly affecting the lives of people living in the area. Firstly, the water quality of the small tributaries flowing into the Mekong mainstream is getting worse (according to Mr. Braga - President of the World Water Council). The main reason is due to the rapid development of urban areas around the tributary river basins in recent years without an optimal solution for wastewater treatment. Secondly, the water level of the Mekong River changes abnormally, sometimes too little causing salinity in many places, sometimes too much causing flooding. The reason is due to the operation of large hydroelectric dams built mostly in the upstream, disrupting the ecosystem, changing the flow rules, creating a general unpredictable situation in downstream countries. Thirdly, the indiscriminate dumping of waste along the river has made the Mekong became one of the ten most polluted rivers in the world. The reason is due to poor awareness of people living along the river.

This situation has a negative impact on the livelihoods of people in the region. In Cambodia's Tonle Sap (the world's largest source of inland fish), fish catch has decreased by 75% (in 2019). The total amount of alluvium currently pouring into the Mekong Delta in Vietnam (an important food bowl for the region) is only one-third of what it was less than 15 years ago. Soil quality in Thailand's Nakhon Phanom and many other places along the riverbank also changes drastically in a negative direction…

Since the end of 2019, Vietnamese Government and people in the Mekong Delta have taken specific and drastic actions. Vietnam Environment Administration has coordinated with Hanwha Group (Korea) to launch a campaign to "clean up the Mekong". In particular, Hanwha has donated 2 garbage boats to Vinh Long province participating in cleaning the Mekong tributary flowing through this province. Can Tho city has also coordinated with The Ocean Cleanup of the Netherlands to set up an automatic floating garbage collection boat system in the city.

To protect the living environment for people along the Mekong River, countries need to cooperate in implementing many solutions. In particular, it is necessary to focus on ensuring the environment when planning and developing urban areas along the Mekong River and its tributaries into the Mekong River, especially well treatment of wastewater. Limit the construction of hydropower on the Mekong River and tributaries. Strengthen propaganda to raise awareness and manage people along the Mekong River, not discharge polluting the river.


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