Water supply infrastructure (WSI) has been utilized for centuries in the Mekong Basin to regulate seasonal water availability and provide for consistent, year-round human use. The storage of wet season flows for use in the dry season has led to tangible and significant improvements in livelihoods, agricultural productivity and energy security. However, having been designed and managed for regular climate, the performance of these WSI in managing extremes in hydro-climate is not well understood.
Through research, modeling, surveys and case studies, the Mekong project on ‘The impact of Water Supply Infrastructure on floods and drought in the Mekong region and the implications for food security’ (MK12) worked to improve the understanding of the impact of WSI on managing floods and droughts and the downstream consequences for agricultural productivity and food security.
The key impact pathway is engagement of the key actors in the study to build their interest and trust in the research findings. At the regional level, this includes water resource planners and at the local level this includes WSI operators and downstream communities. By engaging them in the study, it is more likely that there would be a significant and long-term change in their behavior. In addition, we prepared briefing notes at key stages of the project. The briefing notes provided a concise overview of the research findings and their practical applications. Finally, CPWF workshops, such as the Water, Energy and Food Forum in 2012 and 2013 brought together the key stakeholders including regional water resource planners, WSI operators and downstream communities. These workshops provided an opportunity for the team to present their findings but also for the key stakeholders to discuss and debate the findings to reach a common consensus on recommendations for design and operation of WSI to enhance their contribution to food security.
MK12 was led by the International Center for Environmental Management (ICEM), working in partnership with the Institute of Water Resources Planning (IWRP – Vietnam), and the Enterprise Development Institute (EDI – Cambodia).
Tarek Ketelsen (tarek.ketelsen[at]icem.com.au)