Ayeyarwady Murray-Darling Basin Twinning showcased at Myanmar World Water Day

Bridge over Ayeyarwady River at sunset, Sagaing Region, Myanmar.

Myanmar World Water Day, held in Nay Pyi Taw on 13–14 March and now in its fourth year, brought together local and international representatives from the water sector to discuss and collaborate on the sustainable development of Myanmar’s water resources.

U Henry Van Thio, Vice President and Chairman of the National Water Resources Committee (NWRC) gave the opening address at the celebration, which was themed around wastewater.

For Myanmar, we must implement a multi-dimensional water resources management project to the fullest extent and work hard so that we will become a country where water resources can be utilised effectively. So, to effectively manage all the water resources of the State, it is necessary to systematically manage the rivers and river basins. While undertaking necessary reforms of infrastructures and organisations, we must undertake capacity building of personnel from water-related departments, organisations and stakeholders,” the Vice President said.

Australian Water Partnership Chair, Kaye Schofield AO, was invited to offer congratulatory remarks on behalf of Australia. She offered Australia’s congratulations to the NWRC Chair and Secretary for the speed and dedication with which they have pursued the water resources reform agenda. She noted the many different ways Australia is working with Myanmar and with its other international partners to support the Government’s agenda and strengthen national capacity for integrated water resource management.

“Good science, inclusive consultation and innovative locally-appropriate institutional reform… All these chapters in Australia’s water story are highly relevant to the journey that Myanmar has embarked on through the NWRC. The twinning relationship between our two national rivers – the Ayeyarwady and the Murray-Darling – will provide new opportunities for water managers and technical specialists in Myanmar and Australia to come together, share experiences and collectively progress an agenda for achieving a balanced, equitable and sustainable relationship between people and their river basins. Australia wishes you every success as you work to manage your water wisely, fairly and sensitively. We value our partnership with Myanmar. We are honoured to be working with you.”

AWP Chair Kaye Schofield AO addressing the delegation at the 2017 Myanmar World Water Day celebrations – Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, 13 March 2017.

AWP Chair Kaye Schofield AO addressing the delegation at the 2017 Myanmar World Water Day celebrations – Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, 13 March 2017.

Also speaking at the ceremony was Mr Abdoulaye Seck, the World Bank’s Country Manager in Myanmar, Mr Wouter Jurgens, Netherlands Ambassador to Myanmar and Dr Kotaro Takemura of Japan Water Forum and Secretary-General of Asia-Pacific Water Forum.

As part of the celebrations, the Ayeyarwady Murray-Darling twinning relationship was showcased. The twinning program is part of Australian support through the World Bank’s Ayeyarwady Integrated River Basin Management (AIRBM) Project – a five-year USD 100 million dollar initiative being implemented by the Directorate of Water Resources and Improvement of River Systems (DWIR) in partnership with Department of Meteorology and Hydrology (DMH).

The AIRBM Project will allow basin planning efforts in the Ayeyarwady to benefit from the experience and learning accumulated in the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) over the past 40 years.

The Australian Government, through DFAT and the AWP, is working with the Government of Myanmar and its NWRC, and the DWIR, on implementing a work plan with a strong focus on hydroinformatics and river basin planning (Component 1), and hydrometeorology (Component 2). The third component focuses on Ayeyarwady River navigation enhancements.

Vice President U Henry Van Thio and Australian Water Partnership Chair Kaye Schofield discussing Ayeyarwady Murray-Darling Basin twinning, with U Htun Lwin Oo, Secretary of the National Water Resources Committee, watching on in the background – Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, 13 March 2017.

Vice President U Henry Van Thio and Australian Water Partnership Chair Kaye Schofield discussing Ayeyarwady Murray-Darling Basin twinning, with U Htun Lwin Oo, Secretary of the National Water Resources Committee, watching on in the background – Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, 13 March 2017.

As part of Component 1 in December 2015, AWP partners began work with the NWRC and the DWIR on the development of a ‘State of the Basin Assessment’ and report for the Ayeyarwady River Basin.

In August 2016, specialists in river basin assessment and planning from Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin Authority visited Myanmar to commence the twinning program.

Additionally, a Young Water Professionals (YWP) Program—a joint initiative from Australia and the Government of the Netherlands—is supporting 12 YWPs through training and capacity building in IWRM, hydroinformatics and hydro-meteorology, with IWRM specialists from eWater delivering training workshops. The YWPs will eventually become technical staff for the new Hydro-Informatics Centre.

Further capacity development within these organisations will continue in 2017.

Alignment of AWP support with the AIRBM Project will allow for mutually beneficial leveraging of Australian and Myanmar resources for a deeper success in implementing IWRM of Myanmar’s most important river basin – the Ayeyarwady.

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