Climate change impacts to water safety in the Greater Mekong region

This case study is focused in impacts of climate change to water safety in Srepok river basin that is the major tributaries in the Greater Mekong River basin. All the main rivers in Mekong river, including Sprepok river cross the national boundaries and shared by several states and sub-state provinces in each country. In addition to increasing human activities altering the basin’s natural characteristics (hydropower), the region is extremely vulnerable to adverse effects of existing climate and weather patterns with common flooding and prolonged dry season droughts. Because the affected communities here and mostly poor, their impacts here are further magnified.

Mekong River Commission and local functional departments are interested in the predictability of water related hazards (droughts, floods), to prepare adaptation and mitigation plans and set investment priority.

Accordingly, climate services provided by C3S and HYPE modelling, together with understanding of local needs and validation with local data and indicators, will allow us to provide the accurate, practical and scientific information to the end users, thus improving water management in this region.


Issue to be addressed

The area has suffered from several episodes of floods and droughts, floods in 2000-2002, droughts in 2003-2005, drought in 2016. The events have caused devastating socio-economic impacts, for all sectors, from agriculture, industry, tourism, to environment, biodiversity. The impacts of the events are further magnified because the affected communities are generally poor and vulnerable.

Furthermore, the area is rapidly increasing in both economics and population. The thirst for power and advantageous condition for hydropower development has made the region considerably potential for building more hydropower dams. If built, these dams will alter basin’s natural characterstics and disconnect people from their traditional livelihoods, thus causing serious economic and social hinderance on future sustainability, landscape quality and biodiversity.

Accordingly, it is a huge support for transnational and local government to know in advance when these events will happen and to avoid the possible impacts to be more efficient in water management in these situations. That would be possible with climate change data provided by C3S and C3S Global Service contract.

Decision support to client

The analysis is expected to reveal information on how the frequency of floods/droughts have happened and will increase/decrease in the future. The clients, Mekong River Commission (MRC) and local functional departments, who are decision-makers, could base their decision on these results to apply appropriate measures and prepare adaptation and mitigation plans in the near future. If the results could provide an approximation of the future reality, MRC and local functional departments would be able to avoid huge economic losses and minimise impacts on local people.

Temporal and spatial scale

The Srepok River basin in Vietnam and Cambodia and its sub-basins (86) will be explored. To facilitate both near future and far future assessments, we will provide the indicators for different time ranges; normally, absolute values are given for a reference period (e.g. 1971-2000) and the expected future changes for different 30-year periods, such as early century (2011-2040), mid-century (2041-2070) and end-century (2071-2100).

Knowledge brokering

NAWAPI is also governmental agency, thus it has close operational relations with all local functional departments and MRC. Annual face-to-face meeting with local department of environment and natural resources and local field trip to the site have been organized to actually understand local problems and tailor the products to meet the needs of local users. In addition to that, mail and phone calls have be employed to regularly communicate with local users.

An annual workshop has been organized with the participation of all local functional departments to update on project results and gain feedbacks from all stakeholders involved in water management.

The regular communication and participative approach allows all parties involved in water management and results in a better understanding with the needs of all sectors being considered and covered at most.


Poster displayed at the Kick–Off meeting, 7/8 September 2017, Norrköping, Sweden

Delineated Srepok River basin on the DEM background, streams and meteorological stations