More kinds of data are now available and accessible especially in developing countries. However, open accessibility and ease of sharing is not always possible in the countries of the Mekong region, where governments take care to guard data and information from reaching the public. Lan Nguyen explores the future of open data sharing in the Mekong region and the obstacles that remain in place.
From the Commons
The lotus fields of Dong Thap province in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta are a famous tourist destination. The lotus fields bloom during the flood season from July to October. But in recent years, the lotus farmers are facing difficulties from a combination of climate change, declining water levels, salinity and falling prices for the lotus seeds.
A species of giant Mekong turtles was believed to have been extinct until in 2007 when a mother turtle was found. Since then, governmental authorities, a non-governmental organization, local people and even Buddhist monks have joined hands to ensure the survival of the soft-shell, frog-headed turtles. Their number has slowly grown, but humans, natural predators and climate change continue to pose serious threats.
The Ou River, the longest tributary of the Mekong in the Lao PDR, is undergoing massive changes, with seven dams in various stages of construction already affecting the livelihoods of Khmu communities that have resided there for generations. Sabrina Gyorvary recently visited the area with a local guide and recounts her conversations with community members as they recollect their memories of living with the Ou River.
The Phou Phanang forest in Lao PDR, in Nahoi village not far from Vientiane, is crucial to local livelihoods and is home to gibbons and elephants. Young people are joining local communities to raise awareness and restore the Phou Phanang forest.
The Dawei Special Economic Zone (SEZ) project in Myanmar will establish large-scale industrial estates for export-led industrialization. Japan has recently expressed interest in investing in the Dawei SEZ. Japan’s economy has been built on this model of industrial development. This development model has caused enormous environmental and health impacts.
Minari Tsuchikawa questions whether it is appropriate for Japan to impose this type of “development” model on Myanmar rather than allow the people of Myanmar to find their own path of sustainable development.