sustainable economy · healthy community · education · energy & environment
The Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) was created in response to the July 23, 2009 meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Foreign Ministers of the Lower Mekong Countries -- Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam -- in Phuket, Thailand. The Ministers agreed to enhance cooperation in the areas of environment, health, education, and infrastructure development. Since then, the five countries have sought to strengthen cooperation in these areas and build on their common interests. Burma formally joined the initiative in July 2012.
The United States will assist in developing environmental programs in the Mekong region to help address future challenges. The programs include the development of "Forecast Mekong," a predictive modeling tool to illustrate the impact of climate change and other challenges to the sustainable development of the Mekong River Basin. The Mekong River Commission and the Mississippi River Commission have recently signed a "sister-river" agreement to pursue a partnership to improve the management of trans-boundary water resources. The United States is also active in supporting projects that promote the sustainable use of forest and water resources, preserve the tremendous biodiversity of the Mekong Basin, and increase access to safe drinking water.
United States education assistance includes support for more than 500 student and scholarly exchanges with Mekong countries each year through the Fulbright Program and other educational programs. Both the U.S. Government and private U.S organizations support increasing basic education enrollment and expanding broadband Internet connectivity, particularly in rural communities. The State Department is expanding the International Visitors Program in the region in order to bring professionals working in the areas of health, environment and education to the United States to share best practices and build connections. The State Department is also sponsoring scholarships within three of our LMI partner countries to help train leaders to better communicate in English, in order to work more effectively with their regional and international partners.
U.S. assistance to the Mekong countries in the health field has contributed to the 50% reduction in HIV/AIDS infection rate in Cambodia, and provided treatment and prevention services to over 2 million people across the region. The United States has also provided support for ongoing programs to prepare and respond to threats from pandemic influenza in the Mekong region. Finally, the U.S. helped support our regional partners in the tracking, identification and treatment of multi-drug resistant malaria and tuberculosis in the Mekong region. On June 17-18, 2010, the United States and the Government of Vietnam co-sponsored the first ever U.S.-Lower Mekong Health Conference: "Transnational Cooperation to Respond to Infectious Disease Threats," which brought regional and international health professionals together to coordinate policy and responses to ongoing regional health challenges.