The Ayeyarwady River in Myanmar is navigable for 1,280 km from the sea, opening a vast highway deep into the dry zone and interior of the basin. Between 261 and 364 million tons of sediment per year are transported through the river during the annual floods leading to erosion and deposition of the navigation channel, bars, islands and riverbanks. This means that some sections have insufficient water depth for inland waterway vessels to operate safely, as well as threatening agriculture along the river bank.
In view of the importance of inland waterway transport to the economic development of Myanmar, the World Bank funded Ayeyarwady Integrated River Basin Management Project (AIRBM), led by the Myanmar Directorate of Water Resources and Improvement of River Systems (DWIR) aims to support environmentally and socially sustainable improvements to navigability of the river. Stretch 1 (Mandalay to Nyaung U) was identified as a priority. Within this reach, a sub-project area (Subproject 1) was selected between the Mandalay port and Mingun area for construction of river training measures to maintain conditions for transport while avoiding negative environmental consequences.
Figure 1: Project area
From March-June 2018, March-June 2019, and November – February 2020, river training was carried out through bank protection measures (Figure 2: a combination of rip rap armor stones on geotextile, and vetiver grass) and hydraulic roughness measures in the form of concrete porcupines (Figure 3). The porcupines were installed to slow river flow and cause sediment deposition near river banks to prevent further erosion and stabilize and deepen the main navigation channel, also called the ‘Mandalay Channel’.