China has agreed to provide year-round water data to the Mekong River Commission (MRC), to improve river monitoring, and flood and drought forecasting in downstream Mekong basin countries.
Over the last 18 years, China has shared water and rainfall data from June to October (in the flood season) from two hydrological stations located on the Upper Mekong mainstream.
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The new agreement means China will extend its data-sharing schedule to provide twice-daily, year-round data from the two stations.
China has also agreed to share information on any unusual rise or fall in water levels and discharges, as well as other relevant information on factors that might lead to sudden flooding in the lower basin.
The Mekong, which is Southeast Asia's longest river and acts as a lifeline to 60 million people, has been hit by record drought in two consecutive years.
China was accused in an April 2020 US government funded study of restricting water flow from 11 upstream dams, affecting the people who live in the Lower Mekong where agriculture and fishing are the principal sources of support.
“The increased regulation of the basin and the opportunities and challenges it brings calls for greater data and information sharing, improved water release notifications, coordination of operations, and enhanced early warning systems,” said Dr An Pich Hatda, MRC Secretariat Chief Executive Officer, at a ceremony to sign the agreement on 22 October.