More than a quarter of a million people in Myanmar will be recipients of a project that will equip farmers with resources, knowledge and tools and enable them to have good harvests despite changing weather patterns, according to an official from the UN Development Program.
The $7.9 million, four-year project, “Addressing Climate Change Risk on Water Resources and Food Security in the Dry Zone of Myanmar,” was launched in Mandalay recently.
The project will be conducted in central, lowland Myanmar. Over the past 150 years, environmental degradation, compounded by global warming, has transformed this land into one of the most climate-sensitive and resource-depleted regions in Myanmar, now known as the Dry Zone.
The Dry Zone is home to 34 percent of the country’s total population. Water scarcity, resulting from longer and more severe droughts is the biggest threat to livelihood here. A majority of the households spend most of their time and effort fetching water for drinking and other uses, depriving them of income generating opportunities.
Through the project, small scale water management infrastructure such as canals, community ponds, and water pumps and tube wells will be put in place to ensure a continuous supply of freshwater during the dry season in 280 villages. Five thousand hectares of watershed area will be rehabilitated to improve erosion control. The project also aims to provide timely and accurate climate risk information that would enable farmers to better plan crop planting during the dry season.
The Chief Minister of Mandalay Region U Ye Myint said the project would make significant difference to local communities in the dry zone that increasingly suffered from the impacts of climate change-related events, such as prolonged drought and scarcity of water.
“This project will contribute to making clean water available in rural villages and will therefore help reduce the outbreaks of diseases resulting contaminated water,” said U Ye Myint.
“It will increase agricultural production and enhance local food security. It will help develop water resources and reduce soil erosion; as well as provide income generating opportunities for the landless people.”
UNDP Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, Nicholas Rosellini said the project was of great importance to sustainable development in Myanmar.
“This is the first active project on the ground which responds to Myanmar’s climate change adaptation needs, recognised by the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and in alignment with its National Adaptation Program of Action,” said Rosellini.
“This is a strategic initiative, which will help increase access to additional climate change finance from funds such as the Green Climate Fund,” he added.
“Collaboration of different partners, including the government departments, civil society organisations and participation of communities are critical for accomplishment of this project, as climate change adaptation cannot be promoted through different agencies working independently,” said Renata Lok-Dessallien, UNDP resident representative in Myanmar.
The project will be implemented in Shwebo and Monywa in Sagaing; Myin Chan and Nyaung Oo in Mandalay; and Chauk in Magway.