The Mekong River Commission (MRC) was established on 5 April 1995 by the
Agreement on The Cooperation for The Sustainable Development of The Mekong River Basin.

The MRC member countries are Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. MRC maintains regular dialogue with the two upper states of the Mekong River Basin, China and Myanmar.

The MRC member countries agree to co-operate in all fields of sustainable development, utilisation, management and conservation of the water and related resources of the Mekong River Basin, such as navigation, flood control, fisheries, agriculture, hydropower and environmental protection.

Formerly, the Mekong Committee was established by Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Viet Nam in 1957 during the 13th session of the Economic and Social Committee for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) to address the comprehensive development of water resources and related resources in the Lower Mekong Basin.

The Interim Mekong Committee (IMC) was formed in 1978 following the cessation of participation by Cambodia in 1975. The IMC's purpose is to coordinate the work of the riparian countries in order to maximize the social and economic benefits by following a course of sustainable and environmentally sound development of the Mekong's water resources. It concentrates primarily on areas such as

  • hydroelectric power generation,
  • irrigation,
  • drainage,
  • flood control measures,
  • navigation improvement,
  • agriculture,
  • watershed management,
  • fisheries and
  • water supplies,

as well as training programmes.

The formerly Bangkok-based (the Vientiane, Laos, now Phnom Penh, Cambodia) Mekong River Commission Secretariat (formerly Mekong Secretariat) oversees the implementation of programmes and projects with professional staff from the riparian countries in collaboration with international experts. The Secretariat also serves as a repository of data and studies conducted for the development of the lower Mekong basin and as a platform for in-house training of riparian personnel.

The Mekong activities are organized in three main areas:

  • Policy and Planning covering activities including macro level and sectorial studies which are used for policy formulation and decision-making;

  • Technical Support representing several core activities such as database development, surveys, monitoring and analysis of information related to hydrology, remote sensing/Geographic Information System (GIS) and mapping; and

  • Resources Development focusing on activities related to resource management, river and sub- basin planning, and pre-investment activities, including reconnaisance, and prefeasibility and feasibility studies.

The Water Quality Monitoring Network (WQMN) was launched in January 1985 with financial support from the Swedish International Development Authority (SIDA), to monitor the health of the Mekong river. The WQMN is an integral part of the Environment Programme of the Mekong Secretariat. It is one component of the programme which has resulted from a 'top- down' analysis of a macro level development need (for example, to ensure the sustained water quality of the Mekong river). Specific components which are interconnected and interdependent have been formulated, such as the hydrometeorological network, water pollution campaign, waterborne diseases programme etc. Activities include both routine monitoring and problem-oriented sampling campaigns.

Data and Information Management

Currently, data are being collected from different areas including:

  1. meteorological, hydrologic and hydrographic data;
  2. geographical data;
  3. economic and social data; and
  4. environmental impact assessment.

These data will be used for river forecasting services such as floods, droughts, salinity intrusions and water quality; thematic mapping; as well as for project evaluations, pollution and erosion control projects, monitoring activities, etc.

The Mekong Committee has developed and maintains databases for its activities including a

  • Hydrologic and Meteorologist Database (HMDB)
  • Mekong Bibliographic Database (MBDB).
  • Mekong Secretariat Socio-Economic Database (MSEDB); its development began in 1987 to collect macro-economic data about the riparian States.

In total, the databases currently contain about 5,100 records.

The Mekong Geographic Information System (GIS) was established in 1991 to create a spatial resource database to support information needs for assessing and appraising project requirements, utilizing GIS and remote sensing technology. Thematic maps (watershed, drainage, elevation, adminstrative, geological, soil, land use, hydrological and reservoir maps) of the lower Mekong basin and riparian countries at a scale of 1:25,000 to 1:500,000 were stored in ARC/INFO and SPANS GIS in digital form of 22,818 Mb at the Mekong Secretariat.


In addition to cooperative efforts between the participating nations, the Mekong Committee is supported by UNDP and ESCAP and 20 other donors (seven from Europe as the core group).

Projects were also initiated between the Committee and the EC to exchange information on the development of the Rhine, Rh&eguto;ne and Danube, and Mekong River Basins.

The Committee has established cooperative linkages with various River Basin Authorities in the World.

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