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NEWS DIGEST #208

January 2, 2019

Dams threaten traditional way of life in Mekong Basin - Nikkei Asian Review
Cambodia will be the most seriously affected and is expected to see fish catches fall to 340,000 tons a year, less than half the current level.
Wild miang tea could help save Thailand's forests - DW
Miang tea trees, the forerunner of plantation tea, grow wild in Thailand's forests. Now, eco-friendly businesses are using the tree's leaves to strive for the perfect cup of tea and foster biodiversity at the same time.
Laos not fully benefiting economic integration - Phnom Penh Post
The nation’s share of trade with other Asean members declined from 74 percent in 2004-2010 to 63 percent in 2011-2017, while the share of exports to Asean states out of total exports dropped from 73 percent in 2004-2010 to 51 percent in 2011-2017.
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MEKONG DEVELOPMENT

Lancang-Mekong Cooperation could play bigger role in regional river protection, development - Xinhua
The LMC could play a bigger role in the protection and development of the Lancang-Mekong river, Cambodian experts and officials said in recent interviews with Xinhua.

‘Mekong-Korea cooperation spearheads sustainable development’ - Korean Herald
Ahead of the inaugural Mekong-Republic of Korea Summit and ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit this year, the two sides can benefit together by tackling the development challenges of the future. 

Facing the future in Laos and the Cambodian coast - New York Times
At the final two places on the New York Times visit list of 52 locals, columnist contemplate the swift, irrevocable changes that tourism and development are bringing to these countries.

CAMBODIA

Mekong River agriculture project yields just 60 tonnes of vegetables - Phnom Penh Post
A US$20 million food production project in the Mekong River provinces is yielding just 60 tonnes of vegetables a day out of its 160-tonne daily goal.

Bricked in by poverty, Cambodia's farmers fight debt bondage - AFP
Unpredictable weather linked to climate change is laying waste to Cambodian fields. Saddled with debt from failed harvests, tens of thousands of farmers are turning to brick factories, where owners pay off their bills in exchange for labour.

EU calls for improved government resolution of land disputes - Phnom Penh Post
An EU delegation and civil society groups have called for better action on land disputes in Cambodia, even as the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction outlined its plans to offer speedier solutions to remaining disputes. (See also: Thousands demand compensation - Khmer Times; Increase in land dispute resolutions - Khmer Times)

Illegal logging claims refuted - Phnom Penh Post
Forest activists in Battambang province’s Samlot district said on Thursday that a company that has received an economic land concession in the area is trading timber from outside its ELC boundary.

Seeking help in aquaculture - Khmer Times
The government has asked Japan to support the development of fish hatcheries in Cambodia to boost production and curb reliance on fish imports.

LAOS

Devastating Laos dam collapse leads to deforestation of protected forests - Mongabay
In early September, the Global Land Analysis and Discovery Lab at the University of Maryland began detecting tree cover loss along a 22-mile length of the river. By December 7, more than 7,500 deforestation alerts had been recorded. (See also: Environmental damage continues months after Laos dam collapse - Asian Correspondent)

Rice shortages hamper recovery efforts in Laos - RFA
The rupture of a dam in July inundated 12 villages and killed at least 43 people in Champassak and Attapeu provinces, leaving hundreds more missing. Now up to 3,000 victims are facing hardship as relief rice is running out. (See also: After the flood: How villagers in Lao PDR's Khammouane Province find their own ways to recover after a disaster - Reliefweb) 

Laos to complete 12 hydropower dam projects in 2019 - Vietnam+
The Lao Government will strive to complete 12 hydropower dam projects in 2019 with a total capacity of 1,950MW.

Rice research responding to climate change - Vientiane Times
The Rice Research Centre is accelerating efforts to improve the efficiency of the current rice breeding and testing programme for farmers’ use in response to climate change.

MYANMAR

IFC report recommends alternatives to high-risk Myitsone - Myanmar Times
A government-sponsored study warned against restarting the highly controversial Myitsone dam and recommended alternatives to develop the country’s hydropower sector.

Kachin political leaders discuss Myanmar peace, dam project with Chinese ambassador - RFA
Ethnic Kachin leaders from three political parties in Myanmar’s northernmost state have met with China’s ambassador to the country to discuss the faltering peace process in which the Myanmar government is trying to get its military and nearly a dozen ethnic armies to agree to a permanent cease-fire. They also discussed China's Belt and Road Initiative, a controversial Chinese-backed mega-dam project, and Chinese laborers working illegally in Kachin state.

Residents call for end to mining activities in Kachin State - RFA
Residents from two townships in northern Myanmar’s Kachin state gathered in the state capital Myitkyina on Friday to demand that officials end to mining activities in their region, saying that the operations have polluted a key water source.

Highway to hell: the degradation of the Yangon-Pathein road - Frontier Myanmar
The mismanagement of the Yangon-Pathein highway has raised questions about build-operate-transfer contracts awarded to private companies by the former junta.

THAILAND

Chiang Rai villagers warn the Mekong River “Is not for sale” - Chiang Rai Times
Locals complain that the rush for development and China’s growing influence will leave them worse off.

Extreme weather a wake-up call: experts - The Nation
The country needs to be more prepared and adapt after billion-dollar disasters during 2018. 

Thailand paying the price for eco-sluggishness as controversial environmental issues rise - The Nation
The world is so interconnected, so changes imposed on the environment in Thailand – and the value Thais attach to ecology – cannot be viewed separately from what’s happening elsewhere.

New forest policy over conflicting claims needs widening public participation - The Nation
Nationwide, there are thousands of communities with claims over land rights that have long conflicted with the state. As long as the claims are unresolved, the residents are deprived of their rights of access to basic needs and infrastructure, and more critically, to land security.

VIETNAM

Vietnam National Mekong Committee to strengthen organisation - Vietnam+
The standing office of Vietnam National Mekong Committee should focus on implementing a project on strengthening the organisation of the committee after the project receives the Prime Minister’s approval. 

Hanoi plans mega urban city - VietnamNet
Architect PhD Hoang Huu Phe, from the Vietnam Urban Planning Development, speaks to the newspaper Kinh tế & Đô thị (Economics & Urban Affairs) on the Lang Hoa Lac mega urban city project.

Seminar seeks to address land subsidence in Mekong Delta - Vietnam+
Statistics showed that land in the region has sunken by 18cm per year, or even over 30cm over the past 25 years, both in rural and urban areas, which is yet to stop.

Vietnam works to boost organic farming - VNA
Vietnam has been making efforts to foster organic farming, including a decree issued last August which should be implemented as soon as possible, experts told a forum in HCM City last week.

Will electric vehicles replace motorbikes in Vietnam? - VietnamNet
Scientists have rung the alarm bell over the increase in the concentration of benzene, nitrous oxide and other toxic substances in the air in Vietnam, which ranks fourth in the world in the number of motorbikes, the major cause of air pollution in large cities.
 
The Mekong Eye's weekly News Digest curates news, commentary and resources on development, its environmental and social impacts, and the context affecting the Mekong region. We reach nearly 6000 key development professionals, government officials, business leaders and journalists. Submit stories, press releases, resources or feedback to: editor@mekongeye.com
 
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