Mekong River Commission, Israel team up to tackle river’s plight


The Mekong River Commission (MRC) and Israel, represented by its Agency for International Development Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, last week signed a pack that will see both sides confront some of the challenges facing the Mekong River, according to MRC

The five-year renewable Memorandum of Understanding was inked in a virtual ceremony on September 9 by Israel’s Ambassador to Vietnam, Nadav Eshcar, and the MRC Secretariat’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr An Pich Hatda.

“The signing of the MOU is another example that represents our timely response to the challenges we are facing today and tomorrow, especially drought,” Dr Hatda said, adding that the agreement will benefit both the MRC and wider Mekong region.

As part of the agreement, both sides will work to develop institutional capacity and share technical expertise with a focus on drought management, agriculture, irrigation and other areas relevant to addressing the Mekong River’s plight.

In addition, the MOU contains a provision for courses, training sessions and workshops that draw on Israel’s expertise in managing scarce water resources.

Shifting seasonal and daily flow patterns resulting from climate change and water being stored for regional power have already affected the Mekong’s ecology.

In 2019 and 2020, droughts saw Mekong water levels fall to record lows. The MRC estimates that severe droughts will only become more frequent.

During the signing ceremony, Ambassador Eshcar reflected on Israel’s experience of managing exiguous water resources and its current relevance to the Mekong River’s situation.

“Unlike in the past, Israeli’s many decades of expertise are now very relevant to this region. Israel wishes to contribute to those efforts of the MRC in the spirit of friendship and solidarity with the region in general and the four Member Countries in particular,” he said.

Ambassador Eynat Shlein, Head of Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, also spoke of the MOU’s importance in leveraging Israel’s experience for the betterment of Mekong communities.

A delegation from the Embassy of Israel in Thailand also attended the signing ceremony.
The MRC is an intergovernmental organisation established in 1995 for regional dialogue and cooperation in the Lower Mekong River Basin.

Based on the Mekong Agreement between Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, the Commission serves as a regional platform for water diplomacy as well as a knowledge hub of water resources management for the sustainable development of the region.