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Switzerland Extends Grant to MRC

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The Swiss government has granted more than US$7 million to the Mekong River Commission (MRC) to implement its overall brief, which covers areas such as climate change and adaptation, flood and drought, management and sustainable hydropower.

An agreement in relation to the grant provided through Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), was signed by SDC’s Director of Cooperation Laos and the Mekong Region, Mr Tim Enderlin and the Chief Executive Officer of the MRC Secretariat, Mr. Pham Tuan Phan.

“We made this decision because we believe in the MRC. We believe that the MRC’s ongoing strategic and institutional reform processes to strengthen its profile as the regional platform for water diplomacy are moving in the right direction,” Mr. Tim Enderlin said.

The contribution is part of a recent wave of donor funding to support the MRC’s work as it implements its new five-year strategic plan (2016-2020) under a different organisational structure that operates within a new financial system known as the “basket fund.”

The system allows the MRC Secretariat to use existing funds for any of its prioritised activities, therefore addressing emerging needs in a timely manner and improving the implementation of projects that benefit more than 60 million people in the region.

“We are delighted to continue our enhanced cooperation with Switzerland for the implementation of the MRC Strategic Plan 2016-2020,” Mr. PhamTuan Phan said.

He added that the commission will focus on four key areas such as strengthening regional cooperation, improving monitoring and communication of conditions in the basin, enhancement of national plans and projects, and turning the MRC into a leaner, more efficient river basin organisation.

The Swiss government has been one of the main development partners of the MRC and the new agreement is a sign of the government’s trust and commitment to the organisation’s work in regional cooperation and sustainable development.

Switzerland has so far granted more than US$11 million to the MRC for activities related to flood management and mitigation, the study on the sustainable management and development of the Mekong River and basin development planning .

In September, Switzerland will take over the Chairmanship of the tri-national group that coordinates the 15 member Development Partners Consultative Group of the MRC, which discusses matters related to donor funding organisational support, budgeting and planning.

The MRC is the intergovernmental body responsible for cooperation on the sustainable management of the Mekong Basin, whose members include Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. It serves as a regional platform for water diplomacy as well as a knowledge hub of water resources supra-management for the sustainable development of the region. It is however neither a national or a regulatory body.

Source: Vientiane Times