The Mekong River Basin in Southeast Asia faces multiple similar challenges to the European basins (e.g., hydropower, water quality, sedimentation, biodiversity) but with different socio-economic and climatic conditions and thus can be used for knowledge transfer in both directions.
The Mekong River is one of the world’s longest rivers, and the transboundary Mekong River Basin (ca. 800,000 km2) comprises six socially and culturally diverse countries and includes diverse flora and fauna. The southern portion of the river, which includes the Mekong delta, is highly populated, and livelihoods, food production, and transport depend heavily on the river. The Mekong delta, mainly located in Vietnam, is among the major delta regions in the world. About two thirds of the delta area is used as arable land and provides approximately 50% of Vietnam’s total rice production. The Mekong delta is subject to a range of challenges due to climatic and management changes (both locally and upstream). The exploitation of hydropower potential along the Mekong River has reduced sediment flows affecting the sediment balance of the delta, and water pollution upstream has substantially decreased the quality of water downstream. The decrease in flow in the dry season and the ongoing sea-level rise significantly increase saline intrusion in the delta. The overexploitation of groundwater resources in the Mekong delta area has led to land subsidence. In addition, intensive sand mining is also contributing to reduce sand load to the delta.