The MRC’s State of the Basin Report (SOBR) is a flagship product of the organization and an integral part of the MRC’s strategic planning cycle. Compiled about every five years based on the available data and information, the report assesses conditions and trends within the basin and the impacts that development and use of water and related natural resources are having. The SOBR provides a statement of past trends and current conditions, and seeks to highlight and provide guidance to Member Countries on significant transboundary issues that require cooperation among basin countries to address. The SOBR 2023 is structured around the Mekong River Basin Indicator Framework, consisting of 5 dimensions: Environment, Social, Economic, Climate Change, and Cooperation.

As a longstanding collaborator of MRCS, FutureWater was engaged to support the development of the Economic and Climate Change chapters of the SOBR 2023 and perform the related activities of data analyses, advisory on data gaps and SOBR content, attractive presentation of key results, and communication with Member Countries and specialized MRCS staff to address their comments and suggestions.


The MRCS regularly undertakes periodic regional and basin-wide studies on behalf of Member Countries to assess potential effects of increasing development, growing population and uncertainty in climate variability in the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB). Recent basin-wide assessment and reporting were found to be hampered by data limitations across a range of areas. With the basin undergoing rapid and extensive change, tracking changes in conditions, analyzing the potential implications, and working cooperatively to leverage the benefits and avoid the problems are seen as critical to achieving the objectives of the 1995 Mekong Agreement.

To provide a greater strategic direction to the monitoring and assessment effort, the Mekong River Basin Indicator Framework (MRB-IF) was developed and approved aiming at providing a consistent and streamlined approach to data collection, analysis, and reporting. Through the MRB-IF, the MRC Member Countries and stakeholders can be alerted to the key issues and trends across five core dimensions (environment, social, economic, climate change and cooperation). Included in the MRB-IF are (i) the extent of salinity intrusion in the Mekong Delta (MD) – Assessment Indicator 14 and (ii) the condition of riverine, estuarine, and coastal habitats – Assessment Indicator 16. A systematic process of collection and analysis of the data for status and trends evaluation regarding these indicators is currently missing.

The aim of this project is therefore to develop a basin-specific systematic approach to periodically assess the extent of salinity intrusion in the Mekong Delta and the conditions of the riverine, estuarine, and coastal habitats across the LMB. Methodologies to evaluate both indicators are developed relying on integration of satellite remote sensing data, GIS databases, and station data. The project involves an elaborate review of existing methodologies tested in the LMB and other river basins, an assessment of these methods regarding technical, economic and institutional aspects, and the development of a recommended methodology for adoption by MRCS, including guidance documentation for its stepwise implementation.

In 2017, AFD approved to finance the Water Resources Management and Agro-ecological Transition for Cambodia “WAT4CAM” Program Phase 1. This program will contribute to reduce poverty, develop the economy and reduce the vulnerability of rural populations to climate change by implementing a hydro-agricultural infrastructures rehabilitation program through an integrated approach, targeting the whole chain of water resources management, water services and agricultural production.

The strategy is to achieve intensification of cropping, modernization and climate smart practices to provide farmers with secure access to water. This is a challenging objective and a good understanding of the hydraulics of water flows in dry and wet season is needed. A consortium led by FutureWater was hired to perform WAT4CAM subcomponent 3.1, which concentrates on providing this understanding of both flood and dry season flows, demands and balance in the Preks intended for rehabilitation.

The initial stages of the project include the identification of current data, models and previous work, as well as a field survey with stakeholders. This information will be used to create an accurate and reliable modelling ensemble that makes maximum use of existing capacity in Cambodia. In addition, the consortium will use satellite-derived data products to (i) provide input to the simulation models, and (ii) calibrate and validate model results. Various sources of satellite imagery will be explored to map floods and irrigation practices, to implement an integrated “space hydrology” approach.

The modelling and knowledge generation from this study must support the other WAT4CAM components for the successful implementation of the Prek irrigation system improvements. The modelling itself is thus not the ultimate purpose, but rather the understanding and knowledge imparted to MoWRAM and the other components of the WAT4CAM program.

FutureWater’s role in the project is the overall project coordination and administration, as well as the implementation of satellite remote sensing and climate change analyses in support of the modelling components.

Cambodia is currently improving in economic standing, however the benefits of this are largely contained to urban areas. As a major contributor to GDP, ensuring the sustainability of Cambodia’s agricultural sector is highly important, especially when coupled with the increasing awareness of the dangers of climate change. Access to water for agriculture, fisheries and domestic supply is an issue, with many rural communities competing for resources. Coupled with the effects of flood and drought activity in recent years, the need for adequate and reliable water resource management in rural, agricultural areas is prominent. This project focuses on the North- Western Cambodian provinces of Oddar Meanchey (OMC) and Banteay Meanchey (BMC) and the neighbouring North-Eastern Thai provinces of Surin and Sisaket.

In order to protect rural livelihoods and maintain agricultural production, communities must be supplied with permanent and regulated water year-round. Analysis of recent flood and drought histories and their effects in the provinces are first necessary to determine the most vulnerable areas both in terms of agriculture and households. In addition, water resource assessments of supplies and demand will identify the most crucial areas to ensure supplies are increased and sustained both for crops and domestic use. Socio-economic studies will also ensure ‘cross- cutting’ issues are considered in WR planning, such as: gender, economic vulnerability and cultural factors related to WRM. Furthermore, meetings with stakeholders at multiple levels can address issues in water infrastructure, alongside assessment of the capacities of those managing monitoring systems for example. From this, future recommendations for improvements in infrastructure can be made with an awareness of the necessary knowledge capacities to ensure proper maintenance and sustainability.

Initially, an analysis of the current water resource situation in the study area will be conducted through collection of available data on water resources, flood and drought histories and socioeconomic issues in the area. Following this, areas for more detailed analysis will be established and strategies to improve WRM supporting agricultural livelihoods can be developed. FutureWater is involved in the implementation of the WEAP model, for evaluation of various water resources management strategies in the catchments under baseline and projected future conditions.

Este proyecto se enmarca dentro de la asistencia técnica (TA) 7610-CAM del Banco Asiático de Desarrollo (ADB) para apoyar la preparación de la Hoja de ruta y el Programa de inversión de MOWRAM para la gestión de los recursos hídricos y del riego, 2019-2033. Este programa de inversión proporciona un marco integral y estratégico para las inversiones del país en el sector de recursos hídricos y riego.

Las cuencas seleccionadas para su estudio se caracterizan por sus altos niveles de estrés hídrico (actual y proyectado) y por la presencia ecosistemas hídricos con alta prioridad de conservación. Los principales resultados del proyecto han permitido:

  • Un mejor conocimiento de los procesos ecohidrológicos a nivel de subcuenca y la disponibilidad de recursos hídricos.
  • La caracterización ecohidrológica de 24 subcuencas fluviales.
  • La cuantificación de las demandas ambientales a nivel de subcuenca
  • La identificación de las cuencas con los mayores ratios de escasez hídrica.
  • El establecimiento de recomendaciones sobre las opciones de asignación de recursos más eficientes y equitativas.
  • La detección de las mejores opciones de inversión focalizadas en el sector de riego.
  • La implementación y calibración de un esquema acoplado de modelos hidrológicos y de asignación de recursos hídricos.
  • La puesta a punto de una colección de datos geoespaciales sobre (eco) hidrología de las cuencas de estudio, y compatibles con el Sistema Nacional de Información de Recursos Hídricos (WRIS) actualmente en desarrollo.

FutureWater es la empresa líder en la asignación y ejecuta los componentes de modelado de recursos hídricos del proyecto.

Focus is on the following sections:

  • Flow condition at Phnom Penh, Tan Chau and Chau Doc
  • Salinity intrusion in Delta
  • River bank erosion, river channel condition and sediment transport, sand mining
  • Flood and drought data
  • Climate change covering greenhouse gas, extreme events, temperature, rainfall
  • Navigation

A snapshot of the results of this project are presented on this website:

The Regional Flood Management and Mitigation Centre (RFMMC) has been established in Phnom Penh, Cambodia under the umbrella of the Mekong River Commission (MRC). The Centre plays an important role in maintaining the national and regional availability of important flood-related tools, data, skills and knowledge; producing accurate regional forecasts with suitable lead time, and a timely and effective dissemination of it; in providing accurate, well documented and consistent tools for basin-wide flood risks assessment and trans-boundary impact assessment.

The main objective of the RFMMC at present is to establish an improved, robust and reliable flood forecasting system for short and especially medium-term forecast periods. This system is identified as the new MRC Mekong Flood Forecasting System (MRC Mekong FFS).

By far the largest source of error in the Mekong system is the inconsistency of accurate precipitation inputs. These errors can accumulate over a season and lead to modeled basin conditions that drift from reality. Previous MRC consultants recommended the RFMMC should investigate methods to use observations from rain gauge measurements to adjust satellite rainfall estimates (SRE) prior to being input to the forecasting system. Implementing this recommendation would allow significant improvements in accuracy for the MRC Mekong flood forecasts.

Taking into account the required and expected performance of the new MRC Mekong Flood Forecasting System (FFS), this project responds to these recommendations and the following outputs were delivered during this assignment:

  • The scientific basis for adjusting the bias of NOAA SRE with rain gauge information available for the Mekong Basin, considering its unique properties
  • A proposed operational methodology/tool to implement rain gauge-based bias correction to NOAA SRE into the MRC Flood Forecast operations
  • Implementation of rain gauge-based bias correction to NOAA SRE into the MRC Mekong FFS (Mekong-FEWS).

Climate change is likely to pose major challenges for the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB). Therefore, information on climate change, its impact and climate change adaptation are required to enable decision-making to develop and implement appropriate response measures. A monitoring and reporting system on climate change and adaptation can help to track changes and to store relevant data for assessing status and impacts of climate change in the LMB for supporting adaptation planning.

With this study, the Climate Change Adaptation Initiative (CCAI) of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) offers a review of existing monitoring systems and indicators to improve the understanding of riparian governments, relevant line agencies and others on the status and impacts of climate change. The report should inform the establishment of a database and monitoring system by the CCAI, to build knowledge on climate change and adaptation in the LMB and support information to other activities of the CCAI and MRC programmes.

The review suggests indicators to measure climate exposure, climate impact and climate adaptation activities within the LMB focusing on the thematic areas hydrology, land, agriculture, fisheries, biodiversity, hydropower, food security, and poverty as well as employment. Based on this comprehensive review, recommendations are developed on how to improve baseline data and the sharing of data, what tools are needed for the establishment of the basin wide CCAI monitoring system and what capacity building activities can be useful to this end.

Four types of climate monitoring systems and their time horizon, availability and overall accuracy
Four types of climate monitoring systems and their time horizon, availability and overall accuracy

The Climate Change and Adaptation Initiative (CCAI) is a collaborative regional effort of MRC Member Countries (Lao PDR, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam) to support processes of adapting to the new challenges posed by climate change in the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB). The main focus is a basin wide integrated approach to adaptation planning consistent with Integrated Water Resources Management principles and within the Framework of the 1995 Mekong Agreement. The specific aim is to make adaptation a permanent part of development plans and planning process, and to have tools as well as institutional and specialist capacity in place to implement them.

Rice harvesting

The CCAI focuses on the following Outcomes: (1) climate change impact and vulnerability assessment, adaptation planning and implementation in priority locations within the LMB; (2) building knowledge and capacity at different levels (institutional, technical and managerial capacity); (3) regional adaptation strategy supporting national frameworks; (4) regional partnership and collaboration. Currently, the CCAI is developing its first “Status of Climate Change in the Lower Mekong Basin” report. An important component of the Status Report will be the impact of climate change on the agricultural sector and the projected food situation in the LMB.

Analyses on changes in crop production and food demand and supply have clear transboundary dimensions. Changes might be important in the context of imports and exports of agricultural products. Irrigation is an important consumer of water and changes in irrigated areas can have basin-wide consequences. A clear overview of expected changes in crop production and food demand and supply in the LMB is missing. Earlier initiatives are restrictive in terms of: local specific, encompassing only climate change, often based on old climate scenarios, and, most importantly based on different and not comparable approaches and assumptions.

Mekong Delta

FutureWater will contribute to the before mentioned report, by providing an explorative outlook on crop production under climate change, and on food requirements and production under climate change. The analsyis will be carried out for the 15 principal sub-basins of the Lower Mekong Basin, and for three future situations (foreseeable, long-term and horizon).