As Vietnam suffers its worst drought in nearly a century, debates have been reignited over the mega dams built along the Mekong. The Vietnamese part of the Mekong Delta, the Cuu Long region, accounts for 33% of Vietnam’s agricultural sector and 90% of its rice exports, half of which go to China, which is building the dams.
Once referred to as ‘one of the world’s last great stretches of undammed river‘, the Mekong could well become one of the most dammed rivers in Asia. By 2030, 70 dams will reportedly be operational. These projects will bring new sources of wealth to upper countries such as China and Laos — the latter aims to become the electricity-exporting ‘battery of Southeast Asia‘. But the International Centre for Environmental Management believes the dams will cause an ‘irreversible loss of environmental, social and economic assets.”
The hardest hit countries will be Cambodia and Vietnam, as their economies are strongly linked to the river. Fisheries in the Mekong account for 12 per cent of Cambodia’s GDP and provide its people with a vital source of nutrition. The Vietnamese part of the Mekong Delta, the Cuu Long region, accounts for 33 per cent of Vietnam’s prosperous agricultural sector and 90 per cent of its rice exports, which are the third largest in the world. The Strategic Environmental Assessment Report for the Mekong River Commission (MRC) shows that the effects of mainstream hydropower dams on these sectors will be devastating.
Source: New rule-based order needed to save the Mekong, East Asia Forum, Mar 26, 2016