Listening to the Voices of Villagers on the Ayeyarwady and Thanlwin Rivers

As Myanmar develops, its river systems risk coming under pressure from increasingly rapid changes. Drivers of change can include human uses of the rivers for food and transport, growth of riverside villages, towns and cities as well as large development projects such as dams.

To build a better understanding of both the Thanlwin and Ayeyarwady rivers, MIID is partnering with other organisations to conduct a 3-year pilot study to monitoring the health of the rivers for improved community livelihoods.

In order to understand how communities use the rivers, MIID and partners visited five villages in Bogale, Nyaung-U, Madaya, Mawlamyine and Hpa-An through February and March 2016. The objective of the baseline assessment of villages was to understand the different water resources in the community and capture and analyze information on how communities are using and relying on the rivers.

Township level government staff from the Forest department, Department of Fisheries and other Departments as well as academics from Yangon and Mandalay universities joined the village visits. Through visiting the villages, Government officers and township level officials gained practical experience on how to work with communities and learned about community livelihood activities and different water usages between men and women.

After visiting a remote community on the Ayeyarwady, one Government official said that not only did he appreciate listening to women explain their livelihoods and river usage, he gained a much better understanding of the challenges facing women. The Government official said he was going to take what he had learnt about the village back to his department and hopefully get more support for the community.

This project is part of OXFAM Participatory River Management, collaborating on many activities with the Myanmar Healthy River Initiative (MHRI) project. The integration of these two projects has so far been highly successful, with the Oxfam project strengthening the MHRI project and the MHRI project providing the Oxfam project with the opportunity for government officials to visit project sites and engage one on one with communities from the Ayeyarwaddy and Thanlwin Rivers Basin.

Link: Myanmar