Despite Seasonal Floods Now, Experts See Risk of Mekong Drying Up


Two leading experts on water issues in Asia warn that parts of Vietnam’s fertile southernmost areas bordering Southeast Asia’s longest river, the Mekong, are in danger of drying up.

At the same time, they say, much of the Mekong is still flooded from seasonal monsoon rains. And citizens in places such as Pakse, the second most populous city in Laos, confront dangerous floods.

Brian Eyler at the Washington D.C.-based Stimson Center and Aaron Salzburg at the University of North Carolina also warn that a severe drought could threaten farms and fisheries in key parts of the river basin.

More than 60 million people depend on the Mekong for food and transportation. For many, fish from the river provide their main source of protein. Many children’s health depends on that protein.

The Mekong River originates in Tibet and flows for more than 2,700 miles through China, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam, where it enters the South China Sea.

For more than two months, most parts of the Mekong basin have recorded record low water levels, Eyler and Salzburg say.

In recent years, China, Laos, and Cambodia have all built dams that obstruct natural water flows. And the three nations have continued to construct dams regardless of the impact this has on other countries’ farms and fisheries.

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