Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia faces challenges to regional water, food and energy security, which requires transboundary collaboration.

Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia faces climate-induced challenges to water, food and energy security, which will require transboundary collaboration to resolve.

Significant water systems in the region include the Mekong River, with an estimated length of 4,350 km, which flows through China, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam and supports the livelihoods of an estimated 60 million people. Southeast Asian countries host many other major river systems; many of which are under stress.  Groundwater is also used across the region, increasingly to support agriculture.

Despite the monsoonal climate and high levels of rainfall the region faces growing challenges to water, food and energy security, exacerbated by the impacts of a changing climate. The impact of more frequent extreme and unpredictable weather makes it increasingly difficult to meet the growing population’s demand for resources.

Future prosperity and stability in Southeast Asia will require local, national and regional strategies for sharing and managing water for food and energy production maintaining ecosystems and sustaining livelihoods.

Australia’s development assistance focuses strongly on Southeast Asia, recognising the benefits of working with neighbouring countries to address regional challenges.  We currently work in Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.

AWP’s engagement in the Mekong subregion is facilitated by the Australia-Mekong Water Facility, (AMWF) established in 2019, which aims to enhance water resource management practices. The AMWF provides a responsive and flexible mechanism to enhance Australia’s partnerships with governments in the region.

AWP activities respond to a range of partner government, DFAT, and AWP strategic and development priorities, including flood and drought management, river basin planning, development of law and policy, water quality management, sustainable hydropower, fisheries monitoring and irrigation system modernisation.

A photo of temples in Cambodia


Cambodia’s agricultural sector is its primary water user, accounting for up to 96% of total water consumption each year.


Situated almost entirely within the Mekong River Basin, Lao PDR has abundant freshwater resources.
An image of a boat on clear waters around the islands of Thailand


Water scarcity is a major issue across large parts of Thailand, particularly in the centre, north and northeast.
An image of an old woman carrying rice along a path in Vietnam


Vietnam is heavily impacted by water resource management decisions made in upstream countries.
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