YWP Myanmar: Field Trip to Twante Canal

29 November 2017. Dawn came slowly, followed by the brilliant blue sky of the morning. A group of twelve young Myanmar people gathered at the NanThidar Water Taxi Terminal in Yangon. All wearing the same shirt with "Young Water Professional (YWP) 3rd batch", they were filled with excitement to go on a field trip to Twante Canal, under the guidance of Declan Hearne, senior program manager from the International WaterCentre in Brisbane, Australia (www.watercentre.org). Joining Declan on this trip was Penny Dutton, country director Myanmar WaterAid. (www.wateraid.org).

The field trip was part of a week-long course educating young water professionals in Myanmar about Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) an approach that underpins the International Water Centre's expertise.

In order to make the learning experience more dynamic for this trip, Declan divided the group into 3 teams, focused on three different locations of the Twante Canal:

  • 1.Pansoden Port
  • 2.Toll Gate of Twante Canal
  • 3.Twante Township

Declan asked the teams to discuss and analyze,at each location, the households and livelihood especially around the Twante township – already the concept of interlinked approaches and outcomes were becoming apparent. During the field trip, the Young Water Professionals were discussing about water (quality), sanitation, drainage system, solid waste issue, and how they can decide on good social, environment and economic practices from the surroundings on these three locations.Such practices are the foundations of building an integrated approach with multiple water rich benefits.

Social, Environment and Economy

First of all, Declan discussed what are the social, environment and economic differences between Yangon and Dala which is related to river bank ecosystem. About who is winning and who is losing in this current situation, this question is more relevant to social and economic structure. Dala is a city which is situated on the other side of the Yangon River. It is just like a brother with Yangon and includes Yangon Division. So Dala stagnation is quite a challenge for young water professionals to crack these days. It could be frustrating because tall infrastructures, successful economic environments and super business port could be easily seen from the side of the Dala but as there is no connection with Yangon it could be inaccessible for economic and social development.

At the second location, Toll Gate of Twante Canal, the riverbank is well-structured and alongside the river, there are naturally mangrove forests which are extremely productive ecosystems that provide numerous goods and services to both the marine environment and people.So Declan requested Young Water Professionals to think what the best way is to maintain riverbank: Concrete or Mangroves - which is more appropriate with environmental concerns of this time.

At the final location, Twante Township, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) related questions were discussed. Alon side the river, dwellers are typically working fishery as their livelihoods but on the other hands, they have no consideration about hygiene and water quality. Most of the households' sanitation are connected to the river. This action makes clearly polluted to the downstream of river. So this time, environment and social situation are questionable. Some of the ladies are doing their laundries and their excrement flows out throughout the waterway. This undesirable condition ought to be understandable for them or otherwise more public awareness should be made.

More and more challenges are ahead of the future water generations and it is a focus that this training program supported by the Australian Water Partnership enables future options to be more robust and aligned with Sustainable Development Goals. It does really need ongoing effort and engagement to improve knowledge and increase sustainable water management.

After a long and intensive day, as the sky was getting dark in the distance, the group felt inspired and tired by the experience. Time to go home!

About the YWP program

The Young Water Professional Program (3rd Batch) has started on July 3, 2017. It is a 11-months program that will be completed by May31, 2018. At the start, on June 21, a written exam was held to select the trainees. On June 28, people who passed the written exam were invited to attend an interview and 6 trainees were selected for the program. There are total of 11 Young Water Professional trainees, 6 of them are young engineering graduates in the fields of Civil, River and Coastal and Forestry. The others are government officers from Ministry of Transport and Communications, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, Ministry of Electricity and Energy, and Ministry of Border Affairs. The program is supported and funded by the governments of Australia. The training class is located at Yangon Technological University (YTU) in Insein Township, Yangon.

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