This informative and critical account of the experience in planning for development of the water resources of the Mekong basin is unique in at least two respects: it describes the Mekong experience; it also provides a concrete demonstration of how international thinking and action on water management evolved over the years following 1958. The author describes what was done, and why, in the Mekong, while encouraging thoughtful evaluation of possible lessons for use elsewhere.
Over four decades, the prevailing notions of what are important factors in water planning for the Mekong basin evolved significantly: the attention given to the social and economic condition of indigenous peoples grew notably; investigation of the inter-relations of human activity and the quality of ecosystem processes changed radically; methods of assessing the needs for hydroelectric power and the full consequences of proposed large reservoirs evolved drastically.
The work over several decades of Hiroshi Hori and other UN experts, combined with the accumulated Japanese experience in the region, have laid the foundations for current development efforts in the Mekong basin.
The Mekong is not only a comprehensive description of the basin and of unfolding policies for its development. It also provokes critical appraisal of evolving water-management theory and practices and illuminates problems of environment and development faced elsewhere in the world.
Hiroshi Hori is an international consulting engineer who formerly served as a Senior Advisor to UNDP headquarters. He is currently Chairman of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Committee for the Environmental Study on the Mekong River Basin.