SEI’s Asia Centre presented highlights from the Ayeyarwady Futures Partnership (AFP) including achievements from the first year of implementation of the program on the occasion of Myanmar’s celebration of World Water Day 2015.
By Lada Phadungkiati, Chayanis Krittasudthacheewa, Vitor Vasconcelos and Rajesh Daniel
Held on 20 March 2015 in Myanmar’s capital of Nay Pyi Taw, the “Water and Sustainable Development” event was attended by several hundred participants from Myanmar governmental agencies, academia, private sector representatives and development partners, and civil society including international NGOs.
SEI was represented by: Dr. Chayanis Krittasudthacheewa, Dr. Vitor Vasconcelos, Dr. Lada Phadungkiati and Ms. Cho Cho Win. A number of experts from the Mekong Region also attended.
Welcoming participants to the World Water Day event, Myanmar’s Vice President, H. E. U Nyan Tun said the country was facing a new opportunity to move towards sustainable development in the water sector with the support of the international community including government and non-governmental agencies.
The Vice President cited Myanmar’s significant progress towards improved water governance through the establishment of the National Water Resources Committee (NWRC) of which he is also the chairperson.
SEI has been working closely with Myanmar’s water sector through the Ayeyarwady Futures Partnership (AFP). Since the program’s inception in 2013 (initially called the “Ayeyarwady Futures” program), SEI has closely worked with Myanmar’s Directorate of Water Resources and Improvement of River Systems (DWIR), Myanmar Environment Institute (MEI), a range of state and non-state agencies, as well as the regional experts from the Sustainable Mekong Research Network (SUMERNET).
Presenting in the session on “Implementation of IWRM and the Water, Energy and Food Security Nexus post-2015”, Dr. Chayanis said: “We can make good progress within a short time frame towards AFP’s goal of supporting Myanmar to move towards sustainable development through evidence based and inclusive multi-stakeholder engagement in the water sector.
She recounted ten key achievements from the program’s first year including building trust and partnership with DWIR and MEI, identifying and building the capacity of Myanmar leaders, and improving understanding of water institutions through the use of diagnostic institutional analysis.AFP has also undertaken a scoping study called the “Chindwin Futures Assessment” which includes modeling exercises for river and water management with stakeholder dialogues and consultations. Findings from this scoping study contribute to the design of full assessment of Chindwin basin, which is considered as one of five case studies of the SUMERNET regional assessment (please see SUMERNET regional assessment concept note).
Dr. Zaw Lwin Tun, Director of the Irrigation Department said there’s a need to explore feasible management options for smaller river basins like the Chindwin River Basin: “We need to use this knowledge as a platform for the development of strategies for larger basins like the Ayeyarwady”. He said the Stakeholders Forum that supports the NWRC has helped to widen public participation in water management in Myanmar.
The NWRC established a year ago has proved a strong foundation for taking steps to improve water governance in Myanmar. However, limited resources of staff, technical expertise and budgets mean that NWRC members face competing priorities for their time and energy. Myanmar’s water institutions face considerable challenges in coordinating among the different projects, activities and institutions in the water, navigation and related sectors.
Dr Chayanis said that of the many institutional options, one way forward is establishing River Basin Organization (RBOs) for improving basin-level water governance. “AFP is supporting the establishment of the Chindwin River Basin Organization that can help in monitoring, investigating, co-ordination and regulation of basin activities”, she said.
More information on the AFP program is available in this link: http://www.sei-international.org/projects?prid=2139.