Chindwin Futures, SEI Asia’s programme in the Chindwin River Basin was highlighted during events to commemorate World Water Day held by the Union Government of Myanmar in March 2016.
by May Thazin Aung
Held in Naypyidaw from 13-14 March 2016, the World Water Day events brought together Myanmar’s policymakers, scientists, academics, and state officials along with donors and national and international experts working in Myanmar’s water sector.
The team from Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) Asia presented their findings and shared the progress of work from the “Chindwin Futures” programme during the events through presentations, a display booth and side meetings.
SEI colleagues had the opportunity to discuss the benefits and challenges of designing and implementing the Chindwin River Basin Organization (RBO) that involves a variety of stakeholders and groups from different regions and states in the Chindwin Basin.
SEI’s Chindwin Futures has been working closely with its local partner, Myanmar Environment Institute (MEI) to improve understanding of environmental issues and improve management of the Chindwin River in Myanmar. The Chindwin River is the largest tributary of the Ayeyarwaddy River, a river often described as Myanmar’s “life-blood” due to its cultural, social and economic significance.
Chindwin Futures has been conducting scientific studies on the environmental and livelihood conditions in the Chindwin River Basin. A series of consultations and workshops discussing these findings resulted in an agreement to establish a River Basin Organization (RBO) to resolve problems and disseminate information on pressing environmental issues in the Chindwin Basin.
Dr. Chayanis Krittasudthacheewa, coordinator of the Chindwin Futures Program and SEI Asia's Deputy Director spoke with the former Vice President, Nyan Tun, during the World Water Day events. Dr. Chayanis highlighted the serious concerns about water quality in the Chindwin River due to increasing commercial activities including gold and jade mining operations. SEI Asia recently produced a short film highlighting these issues through the perspectives of people living in the basin. Dr. Chayanis also spoke about the process of establishing the Chindwin RBO and the support the RBO has received from the regional government and stakeholders.
“During this study process, we made sure to take in the perspectives of different people and their concerns so that the voices of all concerned stakeholders will be heard in the RBO establishment process including the assessment and planning activities. The RBO mechanism will serve as a bridge for both top-down and bottom-up management. While ensuring the coherency of the policies and plans from different sectors and levels, it will help encourage local initiatives to support the sustainable development in the Chindwin River Basin as well,” said Dr. Chayanis.
Myanmar is making efforts to better manage its water sector, and has attracted aid interest from the World Bank and the Australian and Dutch governments. The Myanmar government intends to produce a state of basin report on the status of the Ayeyarwaddy Basin which will inform the management of the basin.