Balancing economic development in the face of escalating water challenges

Myanmar has an abundance of surface and groundwater resources, and yet despite the potential development of hydropower, agriculture and navigation, its economy remains one of the least developed in Southeast Asia. Myanmar is highly vulnerable to water-related disasters and declining water quality is an emerging issue due to urban waste, and untreated sanitation and industrial pollution.

About 66 percent of Myanmar’s population lives in the Ayeyarwady River Basin or approximately 35 million people. The transboundary river is about 2,170 km long, and its basin covers 413,710 km² of which 91 percent lies within Myanmar, 5 percent in China, and 4 percent in India. The Ayeyarwady Delta is also home to the critically endangered Irrawaddy Dolphin.

The Government of Myanmar’s Ministry of Transport (superseded by the Ministry of Transport and Communications) and National Water Resources Committee signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 2015. The purpose of the MoU is to facilitate long-term cooperation between the two countries in the field of Integrated Water Resource Management specifically to ensure the development of Myanmar’s river basins is managed for the sustainable benefit of all people.

AWP’s ongoing commitment to supporting Myanmar’s water journey

The Australian Water Partnership (AWP) sees its relationship with Myanmar as mutually beneficial and seeks to continue to support activities that will lead to transformational changes in how water resources are managed across various government levels in Myanmar. AWP also looks to continue to engage in activities that are aligned with Australian niche water expertise and the Australian water reform journey, as well as activities that provide a pathway for broader engagement and strengthen ongoing relationships.

  AWP-Myanmar Investment Strategy

AWP-Myanmar collaboration and support

From 2015–2018, AWP funded 21 activities in Myanmar. More than 20 Australian Partners have been involved in the Ayeyarwady Integrated River Basin Management Project, with four main areas of support: Ayeyarwady–Murray-Darling twinning relationship; Myanmar Young Water Professionals Program; Ayeyarwady State of the Basin Assessment Review and Synthesis; the Ayeyarwady Basin Exploratory Scoping Study; and the Groundwater Review of the Central Dry Zone.

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