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COPING with EXTREMES The impact of Water Supply Infrastructure on floods and drought and the implications for food security
Presentation from the International Centre for Environmental Management (ICEM) www.icem.com.au
Mekong Challenge Programme on Water and Food:
MK12: The impact of Water Supply Infrastructure on floods and drought in the Mekong region and the implications for food security
MK12 is a project led by the International Center for Environmental Management (ICEM), working in partnership with the Institute of Water Resources Planning (IWRP – Vietnam), and the Enterprise Development Institute (EDI – Cambodia). This is a CPWF initiative funded with a grant from Australia through AusAID. The project runs from January 2012—December 2013.
This presentation was from the CPWF 2013 Water, Energy and Food Forum bringing together the key stakeholders including regional water resource planners, WSI operators and downstream communities. This was an opportunity for the team to present their findings but also for the key stakeholders to discuss and debate the findings to reach a common consensus on recommendations for design and operation of WSI to enhance their contribution to food security.
The hydrological regime of the Mekong Basin is characterised by variability. Between seasons, water availability varies by an order of magnitude; between years annual water availability can fluctuate by as much as +/- 30% from the average. While seasonal water variability driven by the monsoon has been instrumental in the productivity of the Mekong’s natural and human systems, the inter-annual variability expressed as droughts and extreme floods has had major adverse impacts on these systems and have even contributed to the demise of civilisations such as the Angkor of Cambodia.
Water supply infrastructure (WSI) have been utilised for centuries in the Mekong Basin to regulate seasonal water availability and provide for consistent, year-round human use. For agriculture, water supply and more recently hydroelectricity, the storage of wet season flows for use in the dry season has led to tangible and significant improvements in livelihoods, agricultural productivity and energy security. However, having been designed and managed for regular climate, the performance of these WSI in managing extremes in hydro-climate is not well understood. Through research, modelling, surveys and case studies, this project will improve the understanding of the impact of WSI on managing floods and droughts and the downstream consequences for agricultural productivity and food security.