With reference to examples, assess the success of strategies adopted to resolve conflicts of interest in the management of water resources in trans-border river basins.
Water conflicts often enough results from opposing interests of water users. This is especially true in trans-border river basins where the freshwater river travels across more than one country. Conflicts among water users arise as water quality or water quantity degrades and no longer meets the demands of each country. Today we will be discussing on some examples of trans-border river basins and how successful the strategies adopted were.
In Southeast Asia, we have the Mekong River. It flows across 6 countries: China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. The river mouth is located in China, a superpower. The Chinese government utilises Mekong’s freshwater to meet the demands of the population and built 15 hydroelectric dam on Upper Mekong. This causes the lower stream riparian states (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar) to experience deterioration in water quantity. The water available for them significantly decreases overtime. On top of that, water quality also deteriorates as the dams trap silt which may contribute to the pollution of the freshwater. Additionally, China’s construction of megadams have affected the river’s ecology and blocked fish migration, causing a decline in fisheries for the lower stream riparian states.
To solve this conflict, the United Nations (UN) set up the Mekong River Commission (MRC) with Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam in 1957 to promote the sustainability of Mekong. However, China is only a “Dialogue Partner” of the Mekong River Commission. China is not required to seek approval from downstream nations on development of the river’s Chinese stretch although it would have both direct and indirect implications for water security in the Lower Mekong basin. China has even shown a penchant for deliberate secrecy as it develops its...
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