Myanmar Healthy Rivers Initiative

As a country develops, aquatic ecosystems come under pressure from increasingly rapid changes affecting river systems. Drivers of change can include the various human uses of the rivers for food, transport, etc; growth of riverside villages, towns and cities; large development projects such as dams; land use changes within the river basin; habitat loss and pollution. These changes may foster economic growth, but they will also impact the ecosystem services and products provided by rivers.

A good understanding of river health is required to inform decision-making and to prevent significant adverse environmental effects when utilizing natural resources. To build a better understanding of both the Thanlwin and Ayeyarwaddy River, MIID is partnering with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), International Centre for Environmental Management (ICEM) and the Ecosystem Conservation and Community Development Initiative (ECCDI) to conduct a 3-year pilot study on “Monitoring River Health for Improved Community Livelihood”. The project is funded by the CGIAR Consortium Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) Mekong.

The objective of the Myanmar Healthy Rivers Initiative is to develop and test river health frameworks for the Ayeyarwaddy and Thanlwin river basins that will help governments and communities to monitor the status of the ecosystem services that they value and to provide evidence for informed, integrated water resource planning.

The Ayeyarwaddy River, the “lifeblood” of the country, and the Thanlwin River, one of the last “wild rivers”, are two of the most iconic rivers in Myanmar. Both rivers provide not only a major source of livelihood to the tens of millions who live within their river basins, but also are strongly linked to the region’s invaluable culture traditions, endangered species and eco-systems.

For more information, please visit the project pages for both the Ayeyarwaddy (Irrawaddy) and Thanlwin (Salween) Myanmar Healthy River projects.