Sharing the Mekong

The Mekong is the economic and cultural artery of Southeast Asia. When upstream dams block the flow of water, however, the consequences, along with anger and fear, ripple far downstream and bring division among peoples worried about their welfare,

The mighty Mekong flows through China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Millions of people depend upon the Mekong for drinking water, fish, irrigation for rice paddies, and transport. Upstream dams, some already built and others planned, provide electricity for many towns and cities, but they block migrating fish and impede the flow of water and sediment, threatening people and environments downstream. The Mekong has become a point of conflict between peoples of the countries that are joined by the river. A potential solution involves bringing everyone together to consider their shared stake in the long river’s health and viability. So far, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia have agreed to work constructively with neighbors upstream and down, sharing resources and resolving tensions, so that the river can continue to flow as the lifeblood region.

Guiding Questions

  • How would you encourage those who live upstream along the Mekong to consider people downstream?
  • How does the use of resources elsewhere affect the availability of vital resources or the quality of the environment where you live? How can your locality work with others to ensure that resources are shared and protected for future populations?

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