The Mekong River Commission Secretariat (MRCS) will operate out of one single office based in the Lao capital, Vientiane, putting an end to the co-hosting of the Secretariat between Lao PDR and Cambodia. In a letter dated 8 August 2016, Cambodia’s Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology, and Chairman of the Cambodia National Mekong Committee Lim Kean Hor, notified Sommad Pholsena, Lao PDR’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, and Chairman of the Lao National Mekong Committee, of the agreement made between Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Lao counterpart Thongloun Sisoulith.
The Lao National Mekong Committee confirmed today that they had been informed of the decision.
At a bilateral meeting on 6 August in Vientiane, the prime ministers agreed that the headquarters of the MRC Secretariat will be located only in Vientiane, but that the MRC Regional Flood Management and Mitigation Centre will remain in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.
The practical arrangements of this decision will soon be discussed by the concerned ministries in both countries. The possibility of consolidating the two offices has been part of the discussions regarding the organisational restructuring of the MRC as it entered a new five-year strategic cycle in 2016 (2016-2020). The reform aims to create a leaner, more efficient organisation that is self-sustained by its member countries.
From 1998 the Secretariat was based in Phnom Penh and in 2004 it moved to Vientiane. In 2009 the governments of the four member countries decided to decentralise the Secretariat into two permanent locations in the basin, and in August 2010 the Office of the Secretariat in Phnom Penh was inaugurated.
The Regional Flood Management and Mitigation Centre opened in 2008. During the June-October flood season, it issues daily flood forecasts and warnings. This information can help member countries prepare and react to potential emergencies.
The Secretariat is the operational and administrative arm of the MRC, whose structure consists of the Office of the Chief Executive Officer, and four divisions: Administration Division, Planning Division, Environmental Management Division, and Technical Support Division.