Author(s): Erich J. Plate; Thanongdeth Insisiengmay
Keywords: Mekong River; Early warning; Forecasting systems
Abstract: The Mekong River, one of the largest rivers in the world, is among the few rivers that are in almost their natural state, without interference from human influences. The floods of the river are among the major sources of the well being of the population, and the annual recurrence of the Monsoon floods is a benefit for the country. However, in some years the benefits are reversed: the floods of the river overflow the banks and inundate vast portions of the land for many weeks. Consequently, it is necessary to adjust human activities to the rhythm of the river. The best people can do is to try to anticipate the flood and to be prepared to live with the floods, both when the floods are beneficial and when they are harmful. This requires that the flood levels are forecasted sufficiently far ahead in time. However, a forecast is not sufficient: an efficient flood management system requires that the forecasting activity is augmented by actions. The sum of the actions to be taken to prepare a forecast and to make it to be of maximum benefit to the people is embodied in an efficient early warning system. A novel approach for obtaining such a system consists of direct interaction of international scientists and regional experts-as has been practiced in an experimental international expert meeting for the Mekong River.