Myanmar –  July 24 – August 3, 2017: Baseline information on Ayeyarwady River gathered from local communities

The Ayeyarwady is one of the most important of Myanmar’s rivers for economic development, yet relatively little is still known about this key waterway. Team members of component three of the Myanmar Ayeyarwady Integrated River Basin Management (AIRBM) project, recently turned to local community members to fill some of the gaps in information necessary to inform the future development of the river.

A series of community consultations were called to identify key values and uses of the Ayeyarwady River, and issues and opportunities facing waterway navigation and river basin development. Organised in Sagaing City, Myinmu, Myingan, Pakkoku and Nyaung Oo townships in late July and early August, the meetings were also an opportunity to present the communities with an overview of the Environmental and Social Assessment (ESA) that will be conducted in the area, and to clarify how they can participate in the process. The purpose of the ESA is to develop a baseline understanding of key issues and trends relevant to a 160 km stretch of the river between Mandalay and Nyaung Oo, earmarked for development. The ESA will ensure that the development of the river takes stakeholder values and priorities into account. During the meetings, stakeholders shared their views on the key environmental and social values of the river to them, as well as how they use the waterway for purposes such as inland water transport.

The project team also used this opportunity to collect township and village tract level data for further analysis in the ESA. Field consultations, interviews with key informants and focus group discussions with livelihood and women’s groups were conducted. Surrounding land and water uses and local boat transport were mapped, timelines of major events such as flooding, riverbank erosion and sedimentation were created and seasonal farming calendars of agricultural activity on riverbanks and islands compiled.

Managed by Department of Water Resources and Improvement of River Systems (DWIR) with support from the World Bank, the AIRBM project aims to develop and enhance navigation for the full navigable length of the river from Mandalay to Yangon. Component three of the project is being implemented under Sub-component 3.2: Navigation Improvements (Mandalay to Yangon with a focus on the Mandalay – Nyaung Oo section) of the AIRBM project.