Environmental collaboration between Norway and Myanmar

As a result of Myanmar's democratization process in recent years, Norway has started collaboration on nature and water resource management with Myanmar. NIVA has played a central role in the work.

Myanmar is a country with high biodiversity and with abundant natural resources, and today the country faces a crossroad and has the option to choose an alternative development strategy that combines sustainable natural resource management with economic growth that benefits the local population.

Institutional development

Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) has a good and well-established cooperation with the Norwegian Climate and Environment Ministry (KLD) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) / Embassy in Myanmar which provide support for the environmental cooperation between Norway and Myanmar for institutional capacity building in water management.

- KLD is responsible for leading the environmental cooperation which multiple Norwegian institutions are a part of. Having this broad environmental approach, provides us with tools to make a good and broad environmental effort in Myanmar, says project leader Bente Wathne from NIVA.

Four main program activities

The main aim of the program activities for water resource management is to provide support for capacity building, the main activities are:  

  • Integrated water resource management

Adapting the principles of the EU Water Framework Directive into the existing structure in Myanmar will be tested in the Sittaung catchment area as the pilot study. The pilot project will analyze how basic organizational principles of the Water Framework Directive; watersheds organization, allocation to regions and water areas, the involvement of different user interests (stakeholders), including NGOs, can be implemented within the administrative structure of Myanmar. Practical implementation of the overarching ideas of the WFD will be done tasks in Bago river system located in the Sittaung catchment area. NIVA personnel are actively working together with working groups in Myanmar. The tasks performed are in line with "on the job training" with practical water management tasks such as: characterization, monitoring, classification, determination of environmental objectives, management plans etc.

  • Monitoring of  Inlay lake

Inlay Lake is important for Myanmar, and considerable interest is given to the lake from other parts of the world. The lake surface is decreasing due to sedimentation, increased water vegetation belt around the lake and probably also because of agriculture / horticulture, especially tomato cultivation on floating rafts of peat (approximately 30 km2). Peat rafts are a tourist attraction and provide income for the local population and tourism is an important industry for the area but with an accelerated reduction of the lake area (nearly 40% over the last 50 years). The environmental authorities in Myanmar understand that current use of Lake Inlay is not sustainable. The negative anthropogenic effects must decline in the near future. Point and diffuse pollution sources of phosphate are one of the main drivers of the increased vegetation around the lake.

Inspection of Inlay Lake. Nanda Win Aung from The Myanmar Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry guides.  (Photo: Jonas Ådnøy Holmqvist).

Water quality, water vegetation, phytoplankton, sediments, loss of water surface in Inlay Lake will be monitored by NIVA. This will provide opportunities for "on the job training" in accordance with the Water Framework Directive monitoring concepts. A database is under development to secure the request from Myanmar to establish monitoring records for Inlay Lake.

  • Tools for integrated water resource management

NIVA aims to develop recommendations and contribute to a national water policy through input to the recently created "National Water Resources Committee" and their experts. Here, the database set up for Inlay Lake will be a good water management tool. It will be used as an environmental database also of Bago River system.

  • Establish a national laboratory for water chemical analysis

A laboratory for water chemical analysis is essential for Myanmar to ensure that good water quality data is available for decision making processes. The water chemical analysis will help decision making processes including; carrying out impact assessments, carry out water control, and check the quality of production water. The laboratory will be crucial for pursuing sustainable water management in Myanmar.

Three year main project

A pilot project for institutional development related to water management in Myanmar was completed as planned in 2014.

Floating rafts for tomato cultivation in Inlay Lake. The houses in the background are standing on piles (Photo: Jonas Ådnøy Holmqvist).

To continue the work in Myanmar a three-year year project (2015 - 2018) is now running, and NIVA application is part of a package including four applications within environmental cooperation with Myanmar. The applications and environmental cooperation is coordinated by the Climate and Environment Ministry (KLD). The environmental program include the Conservation of Biodiversity Project, the Hazardous Waste Management Project and the Water Resources Management Project. Partners from Norway are Norwegian Environment Agency and NIVA.

>> Read more about the project

Last updated 03.03.2016