USAID Helps Fish Return to The Pursat River
Nov 05, 2019

PURSAT, CAMBODIA --( ASIA TODAY )-- A USAID-funded project along the Pursat River is helping the nutrition and livelihoods of Cambodians living along one of the Tonle Sap’s primary tributaries.

The Smart Infrastructure for the Mekong project - funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) - has worked for three years to address the impact of irrigation development on fish populations throughout the five nations of the Lower Mekong (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam). While irrigation dams provide important agricultural benefits, they often limit or completely block fish from their historic habitats. These fish provide the primary source of protein for millions of rural residents throughout the Mekong Region and critical micronutrients essential to brain development in children.

For years, irrigation and water control structures have limited the ability of over 100 species of fish to ascend the river for spawning and rearing. Now a modern fishway at a major blockage on the river, the Kbal Hong Weir in Pursat, is allowing fish to return. The fishway helps species move upstream slowly, taking advantage of resting pools. Constructed by local contractors, it will serve as a unique demonstration site for Cambodian government officials, the academic community, and local residents.

“The Tonle Sap watershed faces a host of challenges. Improved connectivity will allow fish populations to increase, improving the health of the entire ‘Great Lake’ of Cambodia,” said U.S. Department of Interior International Technical Assistance Program Senior Technical Advisor Dr. Michael Roy.

SIM and its partners are in the design stages of additional fishways, in collaboration with the governments of Thailand, Vietnam, and Myanmar.

The USAID Smart Infrastructure for the Mekong Lower Mekong Fish Passage Initiative is implemented by the U.S. Department of Interior International Technical Assistance Program in partnership with the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research, and the Mekong River Commission.