Government seeks public input in Ayeyarwady basin assessment
TELL us how to help you, the government is asking those who live along the Ayeyarwady River. U Tun Lwin Oo, director general of the Directorate of Water Resources and Improvement of River Systems under the Ministry of Transport and Communications, is asking for public comments on the Ayeyarwady State of the Basin Assessment (SOBA).
SOBA is part of the master plan for the basin intended to protect the basin and reduce its vulnerability to climate change. The project is related to the Ayeyarwady Integrated River Basin Management Plan being developed with an interest-free loan from the World Bank.
“Although Myanmar is rich in water resources, sedimentation and other anthropogenic factors are changing our waterways. The Ayeyarwady River supports local livelihoods, but water scarcity and flooding also occur. To reduce vulnerability and mitigate potential impact, we need to develop a master plan for the basin and assess its condition. We need suggestions from the public,” he told participants in a discussion with civil society organisations in Yangon on June 29.
The SOBA assessment will examine the state of water resources and river features, ecosystems, pollution, social issues, economic conditions, and potential changes.
The civil society organisations discussed issues such as land loss due to bank erosion, decreases in fish stocks because of water pollution and waterway changes, protection of heritage sites, deforestation, flood protection, and direct public access to earlywarning systems.
Tarek Ketlsen, SOBA coordinator for the Ayeyarwady Integrated River Basin Management Project, said the challenge was how these issues bore upon the future direction of river basin development.
“SOBA is the integrated environmental, social and economic baseline assessment of the Ayeyarwady basin. We will look at the current states of those characteristics in the basin, as well as the trends over the past 10 or 15 years in order to gather the evidence we need for the planning process,” he said.
He said multi-sector forums would be held every couple of month in the future to generate feedback and shape the process.
The SOBA report is expected to come out in mid-2017.
“The first report is not going to be perfect, but at least we will have taken the first step and we have a chance to improve for the next time,” Mr Ketlsen told The Myanmar Times.
The Ayeyarwady Integrated River Basin Management Plan began in 2015 and the whole project is expected to be completed in 2020.
A child displays the bounty of the Ayeyarwady River in Mandalay Region.