China joins lower Mekong River countries to study impacts of climate change, dams

Author

Zsombor Peter

Source(s)
Voice of America

[...]

On Tuesday, the Mekong River Commission — an intergovernmental body comprising Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam — announced a three-year study spanning the entire river basin, in tandem with Myanmar and the China-led Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Water Center, or LMC. Lancang is China's name for the Mekong.

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A decade of increasingly erratic weather and ever-multiplying dams spanning both the river's mainstream and its tributaries have stifled the seasonal cycles of the Mekong that those millions rely on, said Anoulak Kittikhoun, the commission's chief strategy and partnership officer.

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They will look at data from more than 30 years in two sets: one from 1985 to 2007, and another from 2008 onward, the latter capturing the main dam-building period. Anoulak said the split should give them a better idea of just what impact the dams have had on the river.

That has been a major point of contention between China and those who blame the record 11 dams it has built across the mainstream for much of the decline in downstream fish stocks and the sediment flows critical to floodplain farming. When U.S. climate research firm Eyes on Earth, after analyzing satellite data, said last year that the dams' massive reservoirs had worsened a devastating 2019 drought in the lower Mekong basin, China rejected the claim.

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