Some 60 million people rely on Southeast Asia’s Mekong River for their sustenance. But the Mekong is under threat.
While China is building dams that sharply reduce the water flow and sediment downstream, other countries along the river share some of the blame.
Cambodia, for instance, is experiencing a building boom that is transforming its capital, Phnom Penh. Sitting at the confluence of the Mekong and the Tonle Sap rivers, the city’s low-slung French colonial architecture is being replaced with high-rise apartment buildings, malls and luxury car dealerships. Sand from the Mekong’s sediment is key to that construction growth.