The Story of M-POWER
M-POWER – or the Mekong Program on Water Environment and Resilience – began in 2004 as a knowledge network with members from the six countries of the Mekong Region that encompass the territory, ecosystems, people, economies and politics of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Burma/Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and China's Yunnan Province. There was no core funding; that came much later.
A core objective of the network is to make it normal practice for important national and transnational water-related options and decisions to have been examined in the public sphere. Another core objective is to support the development of governance analysts with experience across the region.
M-POWER made a deliberate choice to focus on the wider region, including several international and many domestic river basins, rather than to overly focus on the Mekong River Basin and thereby frame too much ‘in’ or too much ‘out’ of different political arenas.
M-POWER activities are supported by a network of about 30 partner organizations. Most members are from academic and non-government organizations but also belong to international organizations and government agencies. The network has received funding from several sources, including Echel Eau and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) through the Challenge Program for Water and Food for its activities but relies mainly on the diverse voluntary contributions of its partners.
The first major public M-POWER cooperation was in November 2004 when network members convened, facilitated and provided catalytic knowledge inputs to a high-level roundtable on ‘Using Water, Caring for Environment: Challenges for the Mekong Region’ at the World Conservation Congress in Bangkok. The event included ministers from five Mekong countries (all but Burma/Myanmar) as well as non-state actors. Some sensitive issues, like inter-basin diversions, Nu-Salween infrastructure, and threats to the Great Lake-Tonle Sap ecosystem were discussed.