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Improving Regional Capacity for Assessment, Planning and Response to Aquatic Environmental Emergencies (RCA)

Project Number: RAS/8/095


Duration: 2003-2004


OBJECTIVES

To improve the regional capacity for the management of aquatic environmental risks and to develop capacity in the RCA countries to assess, plan and respond to pollution in coastal aquatic environments.


BACKGROUND

Pollutant materials in large bodies of water can be dispersed by active forces such as wind and tides. These pollutants may be derived from natural or artificial processes and may be organic, radioactive, toxins or contaminated sediments. The health and livelihoods of populations living for example in coastal marine environments may be placed at risk as a result.

The growth of the mining and other industry related activities in the East Asia and Pacific region has increased the level of contamination in receiving waters, leading to reduced populations of the flora and fauna through direct toxic effects, as well as enhancing the concentrations of non-radioactive pollutants in staple aquatic foods. For example, arsenic deposits have been found in the Mekong Delta region and in association with mining activities in Thailand. The accumulation of contaminants in the water, flora and fauna can impact on the local communities' sources of food supply as well as their sources of livelihood.

The project will demonstrate and transfer technologies for the assessment of the impact of contaminants on aquatic organisms. It will also address the problems of water-dispersed pollutants by preparing and verifying hydrodynamic models of polluted aquatic environments. The hydrodynamic models can then be used to accurately predict the dispersion of pollutants. These provide powerful tools for planners who can then predict if pollutants will reach and affect specific marine resources. They can also use such models to predict the impact of changing the hydrodynamics of an area through the construction of man made structures.


NATIONAL COMMITMENT

RCA Member States have endorsed this project at their National Representatives Meeting in Seoul 2002. The project design includes the Philippines and Thailand as partners in the implementation of project activities. RCA Member States will nominate suitably qualified participants for the major activities and will identify suitable demonstration sites for the project. Demonstrations will involve national commitments of infrastructural and other support. The Australian contribution consists of an amount of US$400,000 over three years (2003-2005).


AGENCY INPUT

The Agency will provide administrative and technical backstopping as provided for under the regional agreement as well as support for activities including training events, fellowship placements, and expert services.


PERFORMANCE INDICATORS

  • Reports on activities.
  • Number of regional events implemented and number of trained persons/participants.
  • Number of expert missions implemented and number of persons/participants trained in national activities.
  • Number of RCA Member States engaging with Environmental Agencies to share the transferred ecological risk and response technologies.



EXPECTED RESULTS

The expertise and knowledge being transferred to the RCA Member States on the theory and application of risk assessment and the use of computer codes to make quantitative assessment of ecological risk associated with the release of effluent into estuarine, coastal lake and riverine environments will increase the effectiveness of national and regional responses to ecological emergencies. It will provide training in the sampling, analysis of contaminants in aquatic foods and assessment of their suitability for human consumption.


PROJECT IMPACT

The project will enhance the regional and national ability to assess, plan and respond to environmental emergencies and therefore reduce the risks to the economic well-being and health of communities in the region. The trans-boundary nature of the problems being addressed underlines the need for a regional response.