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Home > Basin > Mekong > Mekong Basin Focal Project (PN58)

Full Project Title: Mekong Basin Focal Project: Synthesis report (PN58)


The Mekong River Basin is extraordinarily rich in ecological biodiversity and provides ecosystem services including fishing, farming and grazing for maintaining peoples’ livelihoods.

Water governance and equitable sharing of benefits especially for poorer sections of the population is a key challenge for the basin. The main issue is not only water availability (except for seasonally in certain areas such as northeast Thailand) but also the impact of changed flows (which may result from dam or irrigation development or climate change) on ecology, fish production, and access to water and food security.

The Mekong Basin Focal Project aimed to assess water use, water productivity and water poverty in the basin, and analyze the opportunities and risks of change in water management that influences water poverty.

Research Highlights

Research highlights

  • Livelihood activities are closely linked with water. Majority of villagers in water poor areas engage in crop farming, fishing or shrimp production in which water is considered as important element that constitute a good quality of life.
  • When designing water-related interventions to reduce water poverty, aim for changes that make incremental improvements more likely over time: these can have a significant cumulative effect. Project monitoring should reflect this long-term perspective.
  • The Lower Mekong fisheries face threats to production from changed water availability, quality, barriers to fish migration and overfishing. If the projected increase in demand is to be met, these threats must be managed such that developments do not reduce the production of fish, especially capture fish.
Project Outcomes

Project outcomes

  • The project’s key outcomes were its findings in different areas of research that revealed the research landscape to be highly fragmented with many research projects and institutions but without an overall sense of direction.
  • Although there are biophysical constraints to water use and food production – especially the probable limit of capture fish production being somewhere around current production – the key factors in future development and poverty alleviation appear to have more to do with institutions. Political choices will govern the future development of the Mekong.
Publications and Outputs

To view all outputs from project PN58 visit our document repository.

Selected publications and outputs


  1. Krittasudthacheewa, C. (2008). Changes of Mekong’s Hydrology and Their Relationship to the Fisheries Sector, invited keynote speech in the International Symposium on
  2. Sustaining Fish Biodiversity, Fisheries and Aquacultures in the Mekong, 3-5 September 2008, Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand.
  3. Mainuddin, M., Kirby, M., (2009). Agricultural productivity in the lower Mekong Basin: trends and future prospects for food security. Food Security 1, 71-82.
  4. SEI and FACT (2008). Household Level Investigation on Water Poverty and Livelihoods: 1. Tonle Sap Case Study. Report for the Challenge Program on Water and Food.
  5. de la Rosa, E., Chadwick, M. T. (2008). Wealth Ranking Study. Report for the Challenge Program on Water and Food.
  6. Kemp-Benedict, E. (2008a). Bayesian Method for Poverty Mapping. Report for the Challenge Program on Water and Food.

Tool development

  1. Water poverty maps at a district level have been created on a basis of the poverty and water-constraint indicators to help the project experts identify the potential water poverty hotspots in which the livelihoods case studies were carried out under the Mekong BFP project framework.
  2. To investigate the link of water constraints to livelihoods especially of the poor at the household level, three sets of questionnaires and checklists of Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) specifically designed for the Tonle Sap area in Cambodia, northeast region of Thailand and Mekong Delta region of Vietnam have been developed and used as survey  tools in the project case studies. All questionnaires and lists will be made available in separate case study reports. Other researchers can make use of these questionnaires directly or with some adjustments if applicable.
Final Report
Project Partners

Project partners


Project Lead

Project lead


For more information on Phase 1 outputs please contact Udana Ariyawansa.