Gov­ern­ment seeks pub­lic in­put in Aye­yarwady basin as­sess­ment

The Myanmar Times - - News - AYE SAPAY PHYU ayesa­pay­phyu@mm­times.com

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.

Photo: Than­dar Khine

A child dis­plays the bounty of the Aye­yarwady River in Man­dalay Re­gion.

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