4.3 Managing water resources in Myanmar

The water cycle is an essential environmental service that provides a basis for many livelihoods in Myanmar. However, the increasing need for water from intensifying economic activities is putting growing pressure on existing water resources. Moreover, the water quality in Myanmar’s rivers, lakes and wetlands is impaired by intentional waste disposal, or incidentally by runoff from agriculture and other land uses.

The uneven temporal and spatial distribution of water resources creates further challenges for water allocation. The surface water and groundwater resources are not located in the areas with the most population and largest cropping intensity, creating a need for irrigation, for example, in the Ayeyarwady basin. Myanmar’s abundant water resources can help in the country’s economic development by increasing the exports of agricultural products and hydroelectricity. However, with intensifying agriculture and hydropower development, the need for sustainable water resource management becomes more acute.

The major water resource issues in Myanmar are summarised in the diagram below.

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Figure 3 Major water resource issues in Myanmar.

4.2 Effects of climate change on Myanmar

4.3.1 Water Supply Management