The Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) Disaster Management Workshop opened in Ho Chi Minh City on Sept. 12 with the aim to develop the capabilities in disaster management for Cambodia , Laos , Thailand and Vietnam.

The five-day workshop is held by the Vietnamese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development with the support of the Defence Ministry of Vietnam and the US Pacific Command.

The workshop combines three days of active discussion sessions with two days of field trips to the Mekong Delta.

Participants from the four Lower Mekong countries and the US will share knowledge and experience on issues such as flood management, disaster preparedness and response to food and water shortage, public health concerns, and pandemic control. They will take the opportunity to identify national priorities and challenges; work together to develop common approaches to address specific challenges; and strengthen existing relationships while setting the foundation for future engagement.

Addressing the workshop, US Consul General to Ho Chi Minh City Le Thanh An stressed that the workshop not only facilitates dialogue among the LMI partner countries, but, crucially, it also connects civilian and military officials within and among the participating countries. Effective civilian-military partnership is essential to disaster and pandemic preparedness and response, he said.

The workshop is part of the Lower Mekong Initiative, launched in 2009 by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the foreign ministers of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam with the aim of strengthening regional cooperation to better respond to common challenges and opportunities in the areas of education, environment, health, and infrastructure./.