The Mekong region includes Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Yunnan Province in China. It is named after the Mekong River, the 12thlongest river in the world, which rises on the Tibetan Plateau and eventually flows into the South China Sea through the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam.
The six countries in the Mekong region are very different in economic, cultural and political terms. However, the level of economic integration has increased dramatically in recent times as a result of the transition to market-based economies, trade and investment liberalisation and large-scale infrastructure development. This has benefited some but not all people across the region. Poverty is now largely rural and is most severe in upland areas which are populated mainly by ethnic minority communities. In these areas, small-scale farmers rely on shifting cultivation, collecting food from the forest and catching fish for their livelihoods. Approximately 100 million people in the Mekong region live on less than US$1 per day. Other problems facing poor people in the region include declining access to land and natural resources, poor access to basic social services, increasing vulnerability to natural disasters, limited government accountability and gender inequality.
Oxfam Hong Kong’s work in the Mekong region focuses on improving the livelihoods and security of small-scale farmers from ethnic minorities living in upland areas in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar.
This work includes:
- improving farmers’ access to land, forests and water
- improving food security and household incomes through agricultural diversification and increased access to markets
- reducing vulnerability to natural disasters and the long term consequences of climate change
- strengthening participation in decision making
In addition to these programmes, we also support advocacy work at national and regional levels. This work focuses on maximising the benefits and minimising the risks for farmers in light of rapid economic integration and the expansion of large-scale agribusiness operations.