Mizzima Business Weekly - - EDITORIAL -

Just a few weeks ago, you would be for­given for think­ing Myanmar couldn’t pos­si­bly have a prob­lem of wa­ter short­age. Large ar­eas of the coun­try were in­un­dated due to an­nual mon­soon flood­ing. The re­al­ity is a lit­tle more com­pli­cated. Ev­ery year the coun­try faces prob­lems of flood­ing. Yet there are large ar­eas – so-called Dry Zone ar­eas – where the un­der­ly­ing prob­lem is wa­ter scarcity and the re­sult­ing chal­lenges for farm­ers seek­ing to grow crops. For farm­ers work­ing grow­ing crops in the Dry Zones ac­cess to wa­ter, preser­va­tion and use mat­ter and cer­tain ef­forts are made an­nu­ally to pre­serve and ef­fec­tively use this cru­cial re­source.

As we have re­ported be­fore, one coun­try is the world’s prime ex­pert on ef­fec­tively uti­liz­ing and pre­serv­ing wa­ter – Is­rael. And so Myanmar has wel­comed the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment’s help with tech­nol­ogy and prac­tice trans­fer. As we cover in this is­sue, in our sec­tion on De­vel­op­ment, two Is­raeli ex­perts from MASHAV – Is­rael’s Agency for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Co­op­er­a­tion, con­ducted a course and work­shop on “Im­prov­ing Ir­ri­ga­tion Ef­fi­ciency” with the aim to share Is­rael’s knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence in this field with Myanmar. The pro­gramme was a col­lab­o­ra­tion over sev­eral days be­tween MASHAV, the Is­raeli Em­bassy, and the Wa­ter Uti­liza­tion Depart­ment, Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Live­stock and Ir­ri­ga­tion at the be­gin­ning of this month at the of­fice of the Wa­ter Uti­liza­tion Depart­ment, Nay Pyi Taw.

About 40 par­tic­i­pants from Dry Zone ar­eas and of­fi­cials from the Agri­cul­ture Min­istry at­tended the course and work­shop that looked into the prac­ti­cal­i­ties of care­fully us­ing wa­ter for agri­cul­ture, min­i­miz­ing wastage, and re­cy­cling.

Such ef­forts are needed. A glance next door at neigh­bour­ing In­dia, par­tic­u­larly in the drier ar­eas of Pun­jab, shows how poor wa­ter man­age­ment is lead­ing many farm­ers into dire straits. Overuse of lim­ited wa­ter re­sources has led to short­ages of wa­ter for use on the land. In par­tic­u­lar, un­der­ground wa­ter sources are be­ing used to such as ex­tent that wa­ter lev­els in wells and ac­cessed by pumps drops year by year, with the added dan­ger that wa­ter laden with ar­senic is the only muddy re­source that can be pumped out of the ground in some ar­eas. Wa­ter tanker trucks pro­vide a re­lief – but at a price. The ex­pe­ri­ences of poor wa­ter-strapped farm­ers in In­dia pro­vides a use­ful re­minder of how poor wa­ter man­age­ment can lead to dis­as­ter.

It there­fore is a wel­come de­vel­op­ment to see how Myanmar’s Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Live­stock and Ir­ri­ga­tion and re­lated ex­perts are look­ing to Is­raeli ex­pert guid­ance on how best to man­age lim­ited wa­ter re­sources. This help is needed now and will prove valu­able down the road when the stresses of wa­ter sup­ply will be­come more acute in Myanmar’s Dry Zones.

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