UN to support drought-hit countries: Deputy PM hinh anh 1Mekong River flows through Vietnam (Source: WWF)
Hanoi (VNA) – The UN will take steps to support drought-stricken countries, Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh said in an interview with Vietnam News Agency on the sidelines of the 11th session of the 13th National Assembly in Hanoi on March 28.

He said this year’s climate change has severely affected many countries – especially those in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam. The UN is expected to bring the drought-hit nations some support, he added.

He told reporters that Vietnam has to request that countries on the Mekong River use water more sustainably, given severe saltwater intrusion and drought.

China ’s recent release of water from the upper part of the Mekong River is a positive move, he said, adding that shortly after, Laos started to release water from its dams to help increase the amount of water on the river. This is expected to continue for the next few years, he said.

Regarding cooperation between the Mekong countries, the Deputy PM said the international Mekong River Commission (MRC) was established in 1995 among four downstream countries: Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia.

He described sustainable use of water resources in the Mekong River as a significant part of the commission’s responsibilities.

The Mekong–Lancang Cooperation (MLC) countries are China, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, he said, noting that the MLC mechanism prioritises infrastructure development, poverty reduction and sustainable management of water resources.

Member countries are outlining specific projects to realise this new cooperation mechanism. Vietnam has made recommendations on sustainable use, protection and management of water resources in the Mekong River, he said.

The MRC has regulations on the development of hydroelectric dams for its members, not for other upper Mekong countries like China and Myanmar. There must be strict agreements on the use of Mekong River water, he said, adding that MRC member states are strictly following the rules.

The MLC was built to develop sustainable water resources. China has developed hydroelectric plants on the Mekong River – known as Lancang in China. So the current problem is how to manage the use and release of water in the river, he said, adding that China has made some specific commitments to realise the MLC targets.-VNA