The landscape is vast and arid surrounding the roads leading to Myin Kun, in the heart of Myanmar. Although the rainy season has only just ended, the land is already dry. With less than 600 millimeters of rain a year, as compared to a 2,400 ml national average, the Dry Zone is aptly named. It covers 10% of the country and is home to almost 18% of its population, which mainly makes its livelihood from farming – despite the sandy soil.
According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), extreme weather events (droughts and heavy rains) have been exacerbated by climate change. Access to irrigation is therefore a crucial factor for the food security of people… and not only in Myin Kun.
To address this challenge, the Myanmar Ministry of Agriculture is implementing a project, with AFD’s support, which will revamp irrigation infrastructure and develop more water-efficient farming methods to obtain higher yields. The objective: sustainably increase food security as well as farmers’ incomes.
To delegate part of the management and maintenance of irrigated areas, the project has supported the creation of a Water Users Association. Its aim is simple: train users for the maintenance of the pumps and other equipment to ensure their sustainability, long after the project ends.
The members of the association, which include U Koko Mg and U Hla Myo Oo, are also trained in the administrative, legal and legislative aspects of the project. It is the first structure of its kind to be officially registered in Myanmar.
“Water is a valuable resource that we must use as best we can. While the Water Users Association is still in the structuring phase, its members are showing commitment, and coming up with solutions themselves,” says Marie-Cécile Thirion, AFD’s Director in Myanmar.
“This is a really good sign for the future. I hope that in a few years’ time, study tours will be organized in these irrigated areas, and that the way they operate will serve as an example for other regions.”