Attending the workshop in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho, domestic stakeholders and international experts discussed Cambodia’s plan to build the Funan Techo canal, a 180km waterway linking Bassac River (called the Hau River in Vietnam, which is one of the two main branches of Mekong River) with Kep port and onto the Gulf of Thailand.

At the consultation workshop on Cambodia’s proposed Funan-Techo canal project in Can Tho

The participants were informed about the International Mekong River Commission (MRC)’s assessment on impacts of the project, the impacts that Vietnam pays attention to, requirements on the results of impact assessment and measures to minimize and monitor the project’s impacts.

According to VNMC, Cambodia sent an official notification to the MRC about its plan to build the Funan-Techno canal. Because the canal directly uses the water source of the Bassac River, the main distributary of the Mekong River, the project has raised many concerns regarding its cross-border impact. The development would impact water resources of the Mekong Delta, especially in the context of drought and saltwater intrusion plaguing the region more frequently and more severely.

The Funan - Techo canal will transfer water from the Bassac River, a tributary of the Mekong River, to Kep port located outside the basin. This will significantly reduce water resources to the Mekong Delta, causing a negative impact on the livelihoods and production of local people and natural ecosystems.

Assoc. Prof., Dr. Le Anh Tuan, advisor to the Institute of Climate Change Research, Can Tho University, said that when the Funan-Techo canal is formed, it will have a negative impact on the Mekong Delta. However, the level of influence depends on the canal’s scale and usage.

Participants said they hope Cambodia would early share details about the goals, design and operations of the project and engage in joint research on its impacts with a view to reaching appropriate measures to monitor and minimise the impacts.

Chief of the VNMC Office Nguyen Thi Thu Linh said that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the VNMC will continue to coordinate closely with the MRC Secretariat, Cambodia and other MRC member countries to accelerate research over the impacts of the Funan–Techo project and propose mitigation measures and monitor the impact.

The Mekong Delta with an area of about 40,000 sq. km is home to more than 17.4 million people. It is considered the rice, fruit and aquatic product granary of Vietnam as it contributes 50% of the country’s rice production, 65% of aquaculture and 17% of Vietnam's GDP.

The delta has been affected by severe drought and salinity in 2015-2016, 2019 and currently 2023-2024 as El Nino impacts local ocean waters and weather patterns. As the weather is predicted to become increasingly extreme, natural disasters including droughts, floods, and saltwater intrusion will hit the region more frequently with more ferocity.

Source: VNA