Project Description

MRC Joint Environmental Monitoring Pilots

Donor: GIZ  |  Sub-contractor: OTT Hydromet  |  Duration: 2019 – 2021  | Location: Lao PDR, Cambodia and Thailand

About: This project comprises the second of three outputs included in the GIZ funded Technical Cooperation (TC) module “Transboundary water cooperation in the Lower Mekong Basin”. The aim of the overall module is to improve cooperation between the member states of the Mekong River Commission (MRC), and to further MRC’s decentralization program. It will strengthen regional capacities as well as identifying and addressing national level bottlenecks that form a barrier to cross-boundary cooperation.

Output 2: Under the overall module, ICEM is delivering Output 2: A joint monitoring of the environmental impacts of two hydropower projects in Lao PDR. These are: (i) Don Sahong hydropower plant (HPP) located where the Mekong river leaves Lao PDR and flows into Cambodia (in the area commonly known as Siphandone, or “the Four Thousand Islands”), and (ii) Xayaburi HPP, located midway between the town of Luang Prabang and the potential hydropower dam site at Pak Lay.

The main focus areas under Output 2 of the module are monitoring of (i) hydrology and sediment, (ii) water quality and aquatic ecology, and (iii) fisheries, as well as the fish passages associated with the two hydropower dams. Monitoring will be done using a system independent of the HPP owners/operators.

The primary outputs of this pilot will be:

  • A populated environmental quality database that is compatible with the MRC Secretariat database (which is in the process of being updated)

  • Analysis of the environmental impacts of the hydropower dams based on monitoring data collected

  • At least five recommendations for mitigating observed negative transboundary environmental impacts (which will be developing jointly with MRC member countries)


To achieve these outputs, ICEM’s primary responsibilities are:

  • The procurement, installation, calibration, operationalization and handover of monitoring equipment

  • Data collection and database development

  • Training and capacity development among MRC’s national monitoring teams (training will focus on monitoring methods as well as data analysis and sharing)

  • Organizing and running regional meetings and workshops


Image: Xayaburi dam, Lao PDR (credit: Chiang Rai Times)