National statistical agencies and census bureaus in each Lower Mekong country have been collecting general census data periodically, but specific data on the contribution of water resources to livelihoods and local economies are still largely lacking, due to the complexity of measuring and monitoring changes in livelihood strategies, and lack of recognition of their economic and social significance. Data on livelihood strategies, adaptation capacity and resilience is generally not collected, analyzed and organized systematically, particularly at national and regional scales. While many other national and regional programs and initiatives have been trying to develop such an understanding, efforts are still fragmented.
With the rapid emergence of large-scale water-related infrastructure projects and imminent threats of climate and land use changes, improving socioeconomic data collection, analysis, and application has become even more critical for water resources planning and decision-making. Collective needs and demands for better understanding towards likely impacts on livelihoods and socioeconomics that may be occurring in response to these changes are exponentially growing.
In order to meet the needs, the Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) – Sustainable Infrastructure Partnership (SIP), implemented by Pact and partners, plans to develop and facilitate a capacity building program on Mekong Water-related Socioeconomic Data Development, aiming to build collective capacity among Lower Mekong agencies, regional organizations, research institutes, and related stakeholders. The program will be designed as a long-term approach that complements and strengthens the capacity of responsible agencies and existing initiatives. Genuine engagement with local community stakeholders and an open data platform are expected to be among key highlights of the program.
As of July 2019, SIP and partners have been coordinating with approximately 20 regional and national senior experts in social and livelihood and related water resources management fields, to form a volunteer expert group, namely, the Mekong Socioeconomic Data Experts Consortium to support and provide technical guidance to develop course modules as part of the Mekong Water-related Socioeconomic Data Development Capacity Building Program.
As the next step, SIP is now proposing to organize the 1st Technical Consultation Meeting of the Mekong Socioeconomic Data Experts Consortium on September 16-17, in Bangkok, Thailand. Key objectives of the meeting are:
1. To discuss and collect inputs on a development workplan, structure, approach and working methods of the Mekong Water-related Socioeconomic Data Development Capacity Building Program
2. To reconfirm a statement of needs; and develop a good understanding of existing projects, programs and initiatives for gap analysis and engagement
3. To develop terms of reference (TOR) for the Mekong Socioeconomic Data Experts Consortium
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