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Enhancing Civil Society Capacities to Work on Biodiversity, Communities, and Livelihoods in Regional Networks across Major Tributaries in the Lower Mekong River Basin
Ratanakiri and Stung Treng Provinces in Cambodia, Champasak Province in Lao PDR, and Ubon Ratchathani, Sisaket, and Surin Provinces in Thailand
The flow of the Mekong River and its tributaries has nourished the Mekong basin, providing abundant natural resources including water, fish, nutritious sediments, and rich forests. The basin has the world’s second greatest aquatic biodiversity, and the watershed including Tonle Sap Lake has served as the world’s largest inland water fishing ground. Food security of this region relies very heavily on freshwater fish.
However, due to overfishing and other reasons, such as mass use of water for industries, dredging, and pollution, the number of fish is decreasing. Moreover, dam construction over the past 30 years, not only the Chinese dams upstream on the mainstream of the Mekong but also the dams on tributaries in Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand, are bringing significant changes to the river flow. This is also inducing fish number decrease.
Unless some effort is made to enhance civil society capacities to work on biodiversity, communities, and livelihoods in regional networks across major tributaries in the Lower Mekong River Basin, a number of high-potential grassroots and other initiatives in the Mekong Region would remain relatively isolated, opportunities for cross-fertilization and enhancement would be missed, and the initiatives themselves might even become weakened. Scientific knowledge offered by academics and experts might not reach CSOs and communities who need them and can use them to bring about positive changes. Civil society would not be able to communicate their collective voice to policy/decision-makers, and more destructive development projects, hydropower dams in particular, would receive approval based on very imbalanced information and views. Hydropower dam projects would then become real threats to the Mekong Basin’s biodiversity and natural resources. Worse, if large populations living along the Mekong's major tributaries remain largely unaware of the high value of the Mekong’s natural environment and resources, they will not be able to play the role of utilizing and conserving them effectively. Instead, they might become impoverished and have no choice but to exploit biodiversity and natural resources in unsustainable ways. The Mekong River’s biodiversity would then be at greater risk.
Given this situation, we would like to strengthen exiting CSO networks domestically and regionally to maximize their potentialities to respond to conservation threats.
This project is expected to produce (1) more informed and collective CSO initiatives to respond to development threats and to work towards biodiversity conservation, built up from grassroots levels and coordinated across the Mekong Region; (2) enhanced CSO abilities to clearly communicate the value of the Mekong Basin's biodiversity and its links to local life and livelihoods. This will also ensure that local communities engage in active and lasting involvement with CSO networks and; (3) more informed and balanced decision-making over individual hydropower projects, including redesigning and installing mitigation measures. The project will also produce (4) much documentation on the Mekong River’s biodiversity and local livelihoods in multiple languages.
(1) Networking at the grassroots level
A field trip
Seminar: Reconsidering the development of the Mekong and its tributaries - Food Security and Rivers -
(2) Activities by local communities
■Creating a Community Resource Map
■Research with Local communities
(3) Information on hydropower projects
Andeng Flower - Kbal Romeas Village
If the Fish Change, the Food Changes (Lao with English subtitles)
Recommendations on measures and alternatives to protect biodiversity, communities, and livelihoods are submitted in writing to Mekong governments, MRC, donors (in particular the Japanese government), and emerging donors on such occasions as MRC meetings (e.g., of the Joint Committee, Council, and development partners), as well as ASEAN and Japan-Mekong Summit meetings.
25 ปี เขื่อนปากมูล:อาชญากรรมในเงาการพัฒนา (6 March 2016)
"เขื่อนดอนสะโฮง" จุดชนวนความขัดแย้งในลุ่มแม่น้ำโขงตอนล่าง (7 March 2016)
ผลกระทบข้ามพรมแดน เขื่อนแม่น้ำโขงตอนล่าง (17 March 2016)
เสียงสะท้อนของชาวบ้านริมแม่น้ำโขงตอนล่างกับการสร้างเขื่อน (18 March 2016)
Supported by: Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (2014-2016), The McKnight Fundation (2011-) and Oxfam Australia (2011-)
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