As part of Regional Water and Wetlands programme for Asia, the Mekong Water Dialogues aims to:

  • improve decision-making processes around water-related management and conservation in the Mekong Region;
  • to provide an opportunity for government, private sector and civil society in the region to participate in dialogues; and
  • to enable different perspectives about water-related development to be considered.

Goal and Purpose

The goal of the project is to improve livelihood security, human and ecosystem health in the Mekong Region through participatory water governance

The purpose of the project is to mainstream participation by multiple stakeholders including communities and civil society in decision making related to management of water resources in the Mekong Region


The approach of the MWD is to develop country-led and regional dialogue processes enabling better flow of information and knowledge, greater stakeholder participation, and an increased appreciation of the inter-dependence of issues. Under the programme, National Working Groups (NWGs), comprising representative experts from government, civil society/non-government organisations (NGOs), the private sector and academia/research sector were formed to guide the implementation of the MWD program in each country.

Water Governance Challenges 

  • Policy reforms have been initiated but they are not necessarily appropriate or sufficient.
  • Water related laws have been developed, but there are some gaps and need for revision and updating in some aspects.
  • Appropriate institutional arrangements corresponding to the policy directives and legal framework have not always been effectively put in place, resulting in lack of coordination between various agencies related to management of water resources.
  • The roles and responsibilities of different agencies are not clearly defined resulting in vague accountability.
  • There is a lack of awareness about water resource management and governance issues among government, private and civil society stakeholders.
  • Although mechanisms for participation by stakeholders and communities have been initiated, such as Farmers Water User Committees in Cambodia, The Irrigation and Drainage Management Company in Viet Nam and River Basin Organisations in Thailand, they are either at a preliminary or planning stage.
  • Water resources management therefore remains sector-driven and non-participatory, resulting in centralised decision making which does not take into account the concerns of the local communities.

Achievements So Far

  • Situational analysis paper on Water Governance covering Cambodia, Lao PDR and Viet Nam is under publication. The study is being translation into different languages with the Vietnamese version ready.
  • The MWD phase 2 proposals have been sent to the donors – Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and they are reviewing the proposal.
  • Partnerships have been established with ADB, UNESCAP and FAO
  • Trans-boundary Water Governance Framework meeting has been organized.
  • Irrigation sector reforms are required the in Mekong region and a series of studies are being undertaken.
  • Siphandone case study has been published as part of MWD series while Siphandone DVD is available in Lao, Khmer, Thai and Vietnamese.
  • Phnom Pehn water utility case study being undertaken to share the learnings with other water utilities in the region.
  • Bang Pakong RBO, an initiative of the Government of Thailand is being documented by IUCN.
  • Learning papers on IWRM and RBOs arebeing undertaken.
  • The Regional Water and Wetland website has been reworked and uploaded.
  • Presentations were made at World Water Forum, Stockholm Water Week other forums.
  • The Ramsar secretariat is planning a visit to the region through MWD and helping the Lao government to prepare for Ramsar ratification.