Agriculture ministry wants more dams amid water shortage

Agriculture ministry wants more dams amid water shortage An undated photo of the construction work at the Upper Yeywa dam. Photo - Supplied

14 January 2021 - Source: Myanmar Times

The country's Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, is considering building more dams to address the increasing water scarcity in the country due to less rainfall.

U Myo Tint Htun, deputy permanent secretary of the ministry, said the proper use of rain harvesting techniques with cofferdams are in the workers and irrigation systems are being repaired in order to utilize water efficiently.

He said the effects of climate change causes less rain and consequences like insufficiency of water for agriculture and drinking could affect the people and their livelihood.

"The ministry is considering the construction of dams for long-term operations as well, said U Myo Tint Htun.

"There are things we are researching and these will be prioritized," he added. "The more manageable plans in a shorter time will be included in the annual project and we will be asking budget for it."

He said the government has not built large dams for a long time and the ministry is planning again to construct big dams again to address water scarcity.

Rainy season in Myanmar normally lasted approximately from May 15 till the end of October, but during the past few years, the rain started only in June and ends in September.

Those who cultivate flowers, fruits and vegetables are using groundwater by pumping and it is lowering the water level under the ground. Experts suggest that only rain harvesting techniques should be used later either individually or collectively.

But several existing dams in the country that are supposed to irrigate farms and generate electricity are running low of water and likely to be of little use during the coming summer months.

The latest to report low water level is the Myo Gyi dam in Ywarngan township in Shan State, which would not be able to supply water to the farmers for crop production in Kyaukse and Singaing townships.

The Zawgyi and Zeetaw irrigated cultivation systems are distributed to over 100,000 acres of farmlands via the Myo Gyi dam and thus those farmers have been notified that summer water may not be available, said Regional Hluttaw MP U Hlaing Win from Singaing.

"The water level of Myo Gyi dam from Ywarngan in Shan State is life for Singaing and Kyaukse townships as they rely on it. This year is the lowest water level for five years," he said.

Generating hydropower has been suspended for more than a month due to the low water level. Right now, the water is supplied to cattle use and industries.

The Kinda dam in Myitthar township in Mandalay Region is also running low of water supply, threatening the summer paddy production.

U Htin Kyaw Lin, staff officer at the Mandalay Region Irrigation and Water Utilization Management Department, said the Kinda Dam received the lowest water in a decade and won't be able to supply water during the coming summer months for crop production.

He said the only thing Kinda Dam would be useful in the coming summer months after providing potable water to nearby communities, is to serve drinking water for cattle.

Earlier, farmers in nearby Sagaing Region are urging authorities to fill up the Thapanseik Dam with river water in order to be able to supply water for paddy cultivation during the summer months.

Since last year, the dam water level has been at a record low. This year it was only in July when it began distributing water.

The dam usually provides water to 121,400 hectares of paddy during summer months and 202, 300 hectares during the monsoon paddy cultivation.

Environmentalists warned that the low rainfall experienced during the rainy season could be to the effects of climate change. - Translated

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