The Mekong River Provides Respite and Livelihood

June 29, 2011
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The Mekong River is a perfect place to sail at sunset and unwind after a long day. But for the Lao, Vietnamese, Cambodian and Thai communities that surround it, the river is more than a relaxing excursion during a Laos and Vietnam expedition — it is a livelihood.

The Mekong flows nearly 3,000 miles from Southeast China to drain in the South China Sea in a delta beneath Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, draining more than 313,000 square miles across Southeast Asia.

The river’s waters are crucial to surrounding communities for rice production, which is the major crop of the people who live on the Mekong River. During the dry season, the river provides much-needed irrigation for the rice fields. The rainy season causes the river to rise to its peak levels by August and through October. Half of the cultivated land is dependent upon inundation of flood waters in some way or another.

The river's seasons offer economic opportunities for the people of the river's basin, such as flood control and water management. In addition, an international effort called the Mekong Committee has been initiating hydroelectricity and irrigation projects since 1957.

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