Facebook and the International Mekong River Commission (MRC) Secretariat have launched a joint initiative to provide early flood warning and drought monitoring information to riparian communities and governments in the Lower Mekong River region.

This is the first cooperation between the MRC and Facebook to raise awareness among the people of the four MRC member states – Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam – on the flood and drought information system. of the MRC and strengthen capacity to use online digital systems for staff in the region between 2020 and 2021.

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Ms. Shanti Alexander, Facebook Asia-Pacific Community Relations Manager: “At Facebook, we are always looking for new ways to support the development of the Mekong region. As a community support tool for disaster preparedness, response and recovery, and disaster resilience, we are excited to partner with the MRC so that millions of people in the region can be informed about floods or droughts may come, so they have a better backup. “

According to a United Nations report on Economic Loss, Poverty and Natural Disaster, in the past two decades, direct economic losses from climate related disasters have increased by 250%. In the Mekong region from 1998 to 2017, Thailand was the hardest hit with an estimated $ 52.4 billion in damage.

According to MRC estimates, although seasonal floods provide diverse benefits to the region, the average annual damage from floods in the Lower Mekong River is about 60-70 million USD. Damages by and Cambodia account for approximately two-thirds of the total annual flood damage in the Mekong region.

Recent MRC studies also show that droughts in the Lower Mekong have increased both in frequency and severity over the past decades, and this trend will continue. The basin is also vulnerable to other climate change impacts, including average temperatures up to 2030 are expected to increase by approximately 0.8 degrees Celsius.

Dr. Anoulak Kittikhoun – Head of Strategy and Partnership Partnership of the MRC Secretariat – shares: “We recognize providing timely and reliable water level information for the Mekong countries. and communities at risk of flooding, drought and climate change are of paramount importance so that they can act promptly to avoid or reduce risks and prepare for an effective response. “

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The MRC has installed 22 hydrological stations along the mainstream of the Mekong River in the Lower Mekong River to monitor and collect data on river water levels and precipitation to provide for the Flood Prediction System and drought in the Mekong by the MRC. This system provides communities and riparian governments with daily river level data, including flood warnings and drought forecast, year round. The system will be explained through a 3D animated video, shared on Facebook’s platform to reach communities across the region.

Facebook will also train staff of four MRC Member States on how to use different digital tools to communicate effectively and quickly during and after disasters. This activity will include training on Facebook Density Mapping – which uses modern computer imaging techniques to combine datasets available for free or for a fee with human intelligence. created by Facebook. These maps are three times more detailed than the available sources.

The Mekong River Commission is an intergovernmental organization for regional dialogue and cooperation in the Lower Mekong River, established in 1995 on the basis of the Mekong Agreement between Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Thailand. Lan and . The Commission serves as a regional forum for water diplomacy as well as a knowledge channel on water resources management for sustainable development in the region.