Myanmar has been disbursed approximately 4 per cent of the IDA (International Development Assistance) from the World Bank (WB) for the Ayeyarwady Integrated River Basin Management Project (AIRBMP) which is under implementation, according to the WB’s latest public disclosure statistics.
Funded by the WB through a loan of $100 million, the Ayeyarwady Integrated River Basin Management Project is implemented by the Directorate of Water Resources and Improvement of River Systems (DWIR) within the Ministry of Transport and Communications and provided with technical aid by Australia and the Netherlands. A Project Management Unit (PMU) has been established under the supervision of the Director-General of DWIR. The AIRBMP is designed as a multi-phased approach to strengthen integrated, climate resilient management and development of the Ayeyarwady River Basin and national water resources. It is phased into four components:
Component 1 – Water Resource Management Institutions, Decision Support Systems & Capacity Building
Component 2 – Hydro-meteorological Observation and Information Systems Modernization
Component 3 – Navigation Enhancement on the Ayeyarwady River
Component 4 – Contingent Emergency Response Component 1 seeks to provide the information, capacity and institutions required to enable government to identify, appraise and manage appropriate development opportunities in the Ayeyarwady. It emphasises to ensure that, at this moment of rapid change and rapid investment, a vision for integrated river basin management guides new investment in the Ayeyarwady, rather than defaulting to ad hoc investments that can undermine one another and irreversibly compromise the river’s full sustainable economic, social and environmental potential.
Ayeyarwady River Component 4 – Contingent Emergency Response Component 1 seeks to provide the information, capacity and institutions required to enable government to identify, appraise and manage appropriate development opportunities in the Ayeyarwady. It emphasises to ensure that, at this moment of rapid change and rapid investment, a vision for integrated river basin management guides new investment in the Ayeyarwady, rather than defaulting to ad hoc investments that can undermine one another and irreversibly compromise the river’s full sustainable economic, social and environmental potential. Component 1 has the following sub-components: 1.1.Institutional Development; 1.2. Ayeyarwady Integrated River Basin Planning Framework and Feasibility Studies; and 1.3. Implementation Support. Component 2 seeks to support priority modernisation needs in order to improve the quality of water, weather, and climate information and services provided by Department of Meteorology and Hydrology (DMH) to the society. This component addresses quality data issue in a country where the quality of hydro-meteorological data is inadequate due to poor and obsolete equipment, poor status and limited number of observation sites and lack of quality assurance and quality control protocols.
Component 2 has the following sub-components: 2.1 Institutional and Regulatory Strengthening, Capacity Building and Implementation Support for DMH; 2.2. Modernisation of the Observation Infrastructure, Data Management Systems and Forecasting, and 2.3 Enhancement of the Service Delivery System of DMH. Component 3 will finance civil works to improve inland water transport safety, ease navigation constraints in the priority stretches of the Ayeyarwady River and design a cost-effective and environmentally and socially acceptable strategy for managing the full length of the navigation channel. Component 3 in cludes the following sub-components: 3.1. Navigation Aids (Mandalay to Yangon); 3.2. Channel Improvements (Mandalay to Nyaung Oo); 3.3. Ayeyarwady River Navigation Strategy (Mandalay to Yangon); and 3.4. Institutional Strengthening and Implementation Support.
Component 4 is a provisional zero allocation component added under the project to allow for the rapid reallocation of funds from other components in order to provide preparedness and rapid response support to disaster, emergency and catastrophic events, as needed.
The project cost for Component 1 is $30.50 million; for Component 2 is $28.80 million; for Component 3 is $36.10 million and $4.60 million for Component 4. The Ayeyarwady River is an international river shared between China, India and Myanmar. It is fed by two tributaries, the Daying and the Jiang, both originating from China. The river bisects Myanmar from north to south, and empties through a nine-armed delta into the Bay of Bengal. Over 90% of the basin land area and population are located within Myanmar. While the Ayeyarwady tributaries host a number of multipurpose dams, the mainstream has no significant structures on it.
The Ayeyarwady River Basin is home to an extraordinary range of ecosystems, and flora and fauna, including the charismatic and endangered species such as elephants, tigers, leopards, sea turtles, crocodiles, waterfowl and migratory birds, and the Irrawaddy dolphins. It is also home to diverse groups of ethnic minorities who are dependent on the river for livelihoods and subsistence. It is expected that many poor and vulnerable ethnic Bamar derive a significant livelihood from the Ayeyarwady River Basin and that they may be significantly affected by changes in the way it is managed.
Concerned with the latest implementation status of the AIRBMP, the WB’s public disclosure information said that the Directorate of Water Resources and Improvement of River Systems (DWIR), the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology and the Project Management Unit (PMU) continue to steadily increase their capacity and have achieved a number of milestones since the $100 million Project was declared effective in June 2015.
The WB summarise the status of each component in its latest project document released on 19 May 2017 as follows:
For Component 1 – The Project is supported by six consultant teams which are helping to prepare the Ayeyarwady State of the Basin Assessment (SOBA). These teams are organized around the following topics: Surface Water, Groundwater, Sediments, Socio-Economic, Fisheries, and Public Consultations. The SOBA report is expected to be completed in early 2018 and will represent a historic milestone for water resources management in Myanmar. The Project has also initiated a consultancy to assist the Myanmar Hydro-Informatics Center (HIC) develop a computer based Decision Support System (DSS) for water resources modelling and assessment, as well support the formulation of an Ayeyarwady Basin Master Plan. The formal Basin planning process is expected to start in 2018.
For Component 2 (Hydro-Met Modernisation): The Hydro-Met System Integrator contract has been approved by the Government and the Consultants will start work in mid-2017. By the end of 2017, the Consultants will prepare a Modernisation Plan for DMH which will involve the procurement and installation of equipment and improvement of services over the period 2018-2020.
For Component 3 (Navigation Enhancement): Detailed design and environmental assessment work on the Mandalay subproject has commenced and the bidding for the works are scheduled in 2018. The procurement for the detailed design consultancy and environmental assessment consultancy for the 200 km stretch between Mandalay and Bagan is scheduled to start mid-2017. Additional Component 3 activities focus on Aids to Navigation and Micro-Projects, which have the potential to significantly improve navigation without undertaking large physical works
Ayeyarwady River is the lifeblood of Myanmar people and is the most important inland waterway. The AIRBMP project, started in 2015 and going to end in 2020, aims to both protect and develop the famous Ayeyarwady.