Despite boasting heavy monsoon and steady rivers, Myanmar may face major water distribution issues due to undeveloped water management techniques, especially in irrigation, sewage management and pollution control, experts say.
While advanced irrigation technologies can nearly eliminate waste water and improve crop quality, a major obstacle is convincing farmers to adopt them, according to Avner Ehrlich, CEO of ATC1993 Supply Co Ltd, an Israeli company promoting drip irrigation systems in Myanmar.
Several Israeli companies visited Myanmar to showcase their modern water technologies in Yangon recently.
“Farmers tend to be conservative, and are often loath to move away from inefficient traditional agricultural techniques,” Ehrlich told Myanmar Business Today.
“Water management technology is also hampered by a lack of statistics and information,” he added.
A diverse group of interests is focused on water in Myanmar, from the now-defunct Chinese Myitsone Dam project to the recently announced World Bank irrigation project.
Myanmar has some advantages, namely that its watershed is still relatively free from the industrial pollution so rampant in India and China. In urban areas, tap water is not drinkable mostly due to aging piping, not contamination of the water sources.
The trouble with Myanmar’s sewage management is that it tends to rely on reactive fixes; things must degrade to an intolerable level before they get fixed.
If Myanmar’s agricultural industry can conserve water, the nascent industrial sector can conserve it, and proper sanitation and wastewater management could be implemented, the country could be well positioned to overcome in the emerging global problem of water scarcity.