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Vital Water Graphics 2

The Mekong River - survival for millions

Table of contents
Toward a world of thirst?ForewordExecutive summary Water and population

1. State of the world’s water

2. Freshwater resources3. Coastal and marine water4. Water and climate change

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The Mekong River - survival for millions Following the course of the Mekong River helps to understand the human/river hydrological interdependence. From its source on the Tibetan Plateau it drops 5,000 metres and flows across six countries before reaching its delta.

More than a third of the population of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam - some 60 million people - live in the Lower Mekong Basin, using the river for drinking water, food, irrigation, hydropower, transportation and commerce. Millions more in China, Burma and beyond the boundaries of the basin benefit from the river. In the plains the river basin accounts for half the arable land in Thailand. Further downstream in Cambodia, the Tonle Sap Lake, one of the world’s largest freshwater fisheries, is replenished by the Mekong. Nearly half of Cambodia’s people benefit directly or indirectly from the lake’s resources. As the river approaches the sea, the Mekong Delta, home to 17 million Vietnamese, yields more than half of Vietnam’s rice production and a third of its GDP. Beyond these human connections the river also powerfully demonstrates the scope for shared interest and competition… (UNDP Human Development Report 2006)