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The Mekong is the most controversial river in Southeast Asia, and increasingly the focus of international attention. It flows through 6 counties, China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Viet Nam. The 4 downstream countries have formed the Mekong River Commission to promote sustainable development of the river and many of their people depend on it for their subsistence ? it has possible the largest freshwater fishery in the world, and the Mekong waters support rice agriculture in the delta in Viet Nam (which produces about 40% of that country?s food) as well as in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand.
China is now building the first large mainstream dam on the river, and has proposals for several more. These dams are likely to affect the downstream countries. Several of the downstream countries also have plans for large scale hydropower and irrigation development which could also impact the river.
This book provides a solid overview of the biophysical environment of the Mekong together with a discussion of the possible impacts, biophysical, economic and social, of some possible development scenarios. It is intended to provide a technical basis which can inform the growing political and conservation debate about the future of the Mekong River, and those who depend on it. It is aimed at river ecologists, geographers, environmentalists and development specialists both in the basin and (especially) outside for whom access to this material is most difficult.