Adaptation to climate change through climate-sensitive flood management in the Lower Mekong Basin

Project description

Title: Transboundary water management with the Mekong River Commission – Component: Adaptation to climate change through climate-sensitive flood management in the Lower Mekong Basin
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB)
Country: Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Viet Nam
Lead executing agency: Mekong River Commission (MRC)
Overall term: 2010 to 2014


Natural flooding has traditionally had a major impact on agriculture and fisheries in the basin states of the Lower Mekong: Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Viet Nam. However, high population growth, migration and the settlement of flood-prone areas are leaving more and more people threatened by floods. Deforestation in the water catchment areas and the expansion of agricultural areas are also having adverse impacts on the region’s water balance. As a result, over the past decade the Mekong Basin has experienced a significant increase in the number of extreme floods occurring. Climate projections predict that this trend will continue, with the situation expected to worsen.

A major bottleneck in dealing with, and adapting to floods is the lack of reliable modelling methods. There are currently no forecasting systems that take the expected climatic changes into account. Climate-related floods therefore pose a serious threat to many people in the lower Mekong Basin, who are often highly dependent on the river’s resources and its function as the lifeline of the region.

In order to find common answers to the dangers of flooding, the member states of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) – Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Viet Nam – have set themselves the target of minimising the adverse effects of climate change in the Mekong region, while at the same time harnessing the benefits for agriculture and fisheries.


The MRC Secretariat and specialist authorities in the four Mekong Basin states use their knowledge to improve their efforts to avert or mitigate flood disasters that are caused or aggravated by climate change.


The Programme focuses on developing competencies and resources. In this way, it is enhancing capacities for climate-related flood forecasting, both in the specialised authorities of the four basin states and in the MRC Secretariat. The reliability of the improved forecasting procedures will be put to the test when they are used, for example, as part of the planning processes in areas prone to flooding. Meanwhile, pilot measures for flood protection are being introduced in areas that are particularly badly affected.

Results achieved so far

Efforts to assess the institutions in the region that are involved in the forecasting and management of flooding and climate change have helped bring clarity regarding to the resources available in the Mekong region.

The technical adaptation of the MRC’s existing flood forecasting models to incorporate climate change has been completed. Work done to date has already improved the technical potential of the MRC’s flood forecasting centre and the accuracy of its forecasts.
Flooding in Vietnam. © GIZ