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 JEP  Vol.9 No.4 , April 2018
The Pulses of the Mekong River Basin: Rivers and the Livelihoods of Farmers and Fishers
Abstract: The transboundary Mekong River is shared by six SE Asia countries (China, Myanmar, Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Vietnam). In this paper the livelihoods of farmers and fishers of Lao PDR, Cambodia and Vietnam are examined to assess impacts of Mekong River development and modernization projects on the rural peoples of the Mekong River and Delta. A high proportion of the 190 million rural people of the Mekong basin are dependent on the diverse and abundant resources of the Mekong River and its tributaries for food security and basic necessities, livelihoods, and cultural identities. Although rice farming and fisheries occupations are primary income sources, many livelihoods involve a diversity of on-farm and off-farm activities. Agricultural specialization and intensification and hydropower dam construction on the Mekong main stem and tributaries are altering traditional rural patterns of household food security, income, and cultural ways of living at an increasingly rapid pace. Rural transformation projects must better assess how these modernization efforts change the ecology of the Mekong River and in turn affect the capacity of rural people to adapt in ways that ensure food security and improve household livelihoods. It will be critical that development efforts recognize, value, and invest in rural people’s roles in producing a stable, affordable food system and managing the integrity of river ecosystems upon which future prosperity depends. Interventions are needed to prevent degradation of the Mekong Basin soil and water resources from large-scale agricultural intensification, water diversion and overbuilding of hydropower dams which are threats to small-scale land holdings and farmers and fishers capacities to provide daily food for their own consumption and to feed SE Asia’s growing urban populations.
Cite this paper: Morton, L. and Olson, K. (2018) The Pulses of the Mekong River Basin: Rivers and the Livelihoods of Farmers and Fishers. Journal of Environmental Protection, 9, 431-459. doi: 10.4236/jep.2018.94027.
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