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Prime Minister Okays Decree on River Basin Committee

Vientiane, Lao PDR — On 15 June 2010, Prime Minister Bouasone Bouphavanh signed Decree No: 293 on the Establishment and Activities of the River Basin Committee, a decree that puts into place an intergovernmental and multisectoral body to sustainably manage the priority river basins and sub-basins of the country. Accordingly, some five river basin committees are expected to be setup in the next five years.The Decree on the Mandates and Obligations of the River Basin Committee (RBC) outlines the responsibilities, duties, jurisdictions, organizational structure and working methodology of the River Basin Committee to promote water resource management through systematic planning and implementation. Under the Decree, the 17-member RBC will be chaired by a Provincial Governor, elected on a five-year basis by riparian provinces, along with a supporting Secretariat. The Secretariat acts as a technical advisory body to assist the RBC to facilitate and monitor all activities of the RBC.This Decree is a significant milestone for implementing several water resource management programs and projects in the country, including the Sedone River Basin Management Project (SIRBMP) in southern Lao PDR. As part of the implementation of the SIRBMP, the Project Steering Committee (PSC) for the Sedone River Basin Management Project was established last year as an interim body to facilitate interprovincial collaboration in the management of the river basin. The PSC, which is composed of representatives from Champasack, Saravanne and Sekong Provinces, provides policy direction for the implementation of the SIRBMP, including the approval of the draft river basin strategy. A Project Coordinating Office based in Pakse is headed by the Provincial Water Resources and Environment Office and serves as the Secretariat to the PSC. With the approval of Decree No. 293, the PSC and the PCO are accorded the necessary mandates to fulfill their functions, including the engagement of various sectors, agencies and stakeholders in the implementation and management of the Sedone River Basin.About 92 percent of the Lao territory is within the Mekong River basin. There are 12 major tributaries of the Mekong that are completely or primarily in Lao PDR.