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NEWS DIGEST #209

January 9, 2019

How preserving folktales and legends help raise environment awareness in the Mekong - Global Voices
Indigenous communities in the Mekong are recording stories and legends to explore how these narratives can help exposing the destructive impact of large-scale projects in the region.
Can the Land of a Million Elephants survive the Belt and Road? - The Diplomat
Chinese-funded projects in Laos could hasten the eradication of the elephant population as current trajectories indicate that there will be no elephants left in Laos by the year 2030.
Myanmar proceeds with China backed mega projects as degradation of western relations continues - Frontera
After years of interrupted progression with Chinese-backed projects the Myanmar government has agreed to speed up progress.
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CAMBODIA

More than two-thirds of ethnic Vietnamese evicted from Cambodia’s Tonle Sap floating villages - RFA
More than two-thirds of around 2,300 ethnic Vietnamese families living in a “floating village” have been evicted from their homes, despite concerns over a lack of infrastructure on the land demarcated for their relocation.

How Vietnam lost and China won Cambodia - Asia Times
Forty years after the fall of the China-supported Khmer Rouge regime to Vietnam's invading forces, Cambodia is now more clearly in Beijing's than Hanoi's orbit. 

Most endangered birds continue to be present in Cambodia - AKP
Giant Ibis, vultures, and White-shouldered Ibis continue to be found in their natural habitats in Cambodia, according to BirdLife Cambodia. (See also: Nest of endangered birds discovered - Phnom Penh Post)

LAOS

Southern Lao flood victims call for urgent provision of housing - Xinhua
According to initial plans, construction of temporary houses for victims of the flood caused by the collapse of a dam at the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydropower plant was to be completed last November, but construction is still ongoing.

Lao villagers reject plans for China-invested SEZ -  RFA
Villagers in the scenic Vang Vieng region north of Vientiane are blocking attempts to survey their land for foreign-invested development, fearing they will be displaced from their homes by a new Chinese tourism project.

Comply with environmental regulations or have licence revoked, Chinese farming firm warned - Vientiane Times
The resolution was adopted after the company, which was granted 160 hectares of land to grow bananas, sweetcorn and other crops in Sangthong district in 2014, was found using hazardous chemicals on its farm. The chemicals leaked into the Ton River, killing more than 300 kilograms of fish in November.

MYANMAR

Residents call for end to mining activities in Myanmar’s Kachin State - Steel Guru
Some researchers say they found dumped chemical packaging from mining operations in the area, which caused nearby land to dry up and affected the environment.

Myanmar residents object to development of Dawei beach, islands - Myanmar Times
Residents, civil society groups and a local political party have submitted their objections to proposals by four companies for the development of three islands and a huge stretch of beach in Dawei.

Electrifying Myanmar - The ASEAN Post
Dams, natural gas or solar are all in the mix as Myanmar works to address electricity demand forecasted to be 15 gigawatts by 2030, a fivefold increase from current levels.

Turning bio-waste to a bio-economy in Myanmar's Ayeyarwady Delta - IPS
Initial value chain analysis shows these low-value bi-products can be used to make higher value products that can increase the income of rice farmers and millers and provide affordable energy to the wider region.

Turning mangrove trees into sustainable assets for Myanmar - IPS
In 2015, Worldview International Foundation began a mangrove restoration project, planting saplings of the trees on about 121 hectares of land in Myanmar’s Ayyerwady region. (See also: Unlocking sustainable community forestry in the Ayeyarwady Delta - IPS; Sprouting mangroves restore hopes in Coastal Myanmar - IPS)

THAILAND

Locals fear China's push to blasts rapids will harm ecosystem - Bangkok Post
New hearings to get underway as activists in Chiang Rai continue making their opinion known that locals do not want rapid blasting as it will destroy critical habitat and livelihoods for many communities. (See also: Mekong’s future remains uncertain as Thailand lights fuse on rapids-blasting project - The Nation; Sudden public hearing on Mekong “Rapids-Blasting” project catches community group by surprise - Chiang Rai Times)

Protecting coastline from super-storm damage - Bangkok Post
Super storms fuelled by climate change are costing Asian countries money and lives. Thailand is the latest country to deal with the threat to both lives and property, with Pabuk being the first tropical storm in 2019 to hit the country's southern resort islands outside of the monsoon season for around 30 years.

Fixing NCPO legacy of conflict, pollution (opinion) - Bangkok Post
It's evident that under the military regime, there is no chance we will get laws that effectively protect public health and the environment.

Key to agricultural progress is research (opinion) - Bangkok Post
Agriculture is a necessary and integral part of the government's "Thailand 4.0" initiative. It is far more important as both a means and ends to Thailand's economic and social development than is otherwise generally recognized. (See also: Academic argues for better rice policy, long-term focus - Bangkok Post)

VIETNAM

Vietnam faces challenges in ensuring water security - VietnamNet
Neighboring countries upstream of the rivers like the Mekong tend to exploit the water resources, creating more pressure on Vietnam’s water security.

Master plan to develop ethnic areas - Vietnam News
Vietnam has a Master Plan to promote the rapid and sustainable development of ethnic minority groups in mountainous areas.

Vietnam should become one of the world’s top 15 most developed agriculture nations - Phnom Penh Post
The prime minister proposed that in the next 10 years, the agricultural sector must work to make Vietnam one of the world’s top 15 most agriculturally developed countries and the world’s top 10 agricultural processing countries.

Vietnam eyes green power - Vietnam Express
Planners say they will not sacrifice the environment for growth. They are intent on pursuing environment-friendly coal and gas-fueled power plants along with renewables as they evolve the country's energy supply infrastructure. (See also: Renewable fever in Vietnam's energy sector - VietnamNet; Da Nang, EU begin solar power project - Vietnam+; Hanoi Electricity strives to supply enough power - Vietnam News)

Waste-to-energy offers quick returns - Vietnam News
Power generation from waste has a short break-even period and benefits the environment and so is attractive to investors.
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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