Laos' national Mekong Committee says erosion along the Mekong river banks is getting worse, especially in Bokeo province where more than 600 families in Muang Pheung area had to abandon their houses and move farther inland last year. The erosion was estimated at over 20 meters long.
The Mekong Committee adds that it is looking for the causes and ways to prevent further erosion.
Meanwhile, the Southeast Asian Rivers Network asserts that the continuing erosion results from the opening and closing of the three big dams that China has built on the Mekong River in Yunnan province, which causes the water level to fluctuate quickly. The disappearance of reefs is another cause. To make the Mekong more navigable, China had to blast all the reefs from Chieng Hung down to the Golden Triangle, causing the flows of the river to change considerably. SEARIN says erosion started in 2005 after the reef blasting was completed, adding that for the past 3-4 years the Mekong river banks in Laos have been eroded at the rate of over 170 kilometers a year. The environmental group also says erosion has also destroyed aquatic animals and the livelihood of the people living along the river banks.
Our Bangkok stringer reports that the Lao government has received a loan from South Korea to fund its 49-million dollar project to strengthen the river banks in Vientiane and prevent further erosion. The project is expected to be completed in 2013.
Listen to our report for more details.