Introduction 

Following the recent news that Dutch company Vitens-Evides International (VEI) is going help Mandalay to improve its water supply system, we talked to VEI's project manager, Adriaan Ruijmschoot, about this initiative, called WaterWorX. In this interview, Adriaan talks about WaterWorX and the current water condition in Myanmar. In addition, he added his previous experience when he worked as project manager in Vietnam and shared his thoughts about the future of the water sector in Myanmar.

Introduction about WaterWorX in Myanmar Water Sector

  • WaterWorX is a long-term initiative by all ten Dutch drinking water companies to contribute to SDG6: sustainable water and sanitation for all.
  • With financial support of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, partnerships are formed between the Dutch drinking water companies and their colleague water companies in developing and transition countries.
  • Through the WaterWorX programme, they intend to connect an additional 10 million people to sustainable water supply by 2030.
  • At the same time, WaterWorX will provide support in all kinds of areas, ranging from tube well maintenance and energy reduction to financial management and leadership development.

Sustainable access that can bring to Myanmar

  • A large part of the work will consist of technical assistance and training, aimed at making sure that knowledge is anchored within the Myanmar water companies.
  • This knowledge transfer is key to making access sustainable.
  • The cooperation within WaterWorX focusses strongly on strengthening the operations and management of existing water companies.

The Future Water Sector in Myanmar

  • With the relatively low coverage level of the water companies, combined with rapid urbanization and old production and distribution systems, the water sector has a lot of work to do.
  • But in his short experience in Mandalay, Adriaan has seen a lot of motivated bright people that have the potential to solve the challenges ahead.
  • As the international water sector is keen to support, he hopes the leaders of the Myanmar water companies will seize their responsibility in coordinating funds and knowledge to solve the problems efficiently.

Current Water Condition in Myanmar

  • The Mandalay drinking water system is in dire need of maintenance, replacement and expansion.
  • Currently only half the population is served by MCDC.
  • Water losses exceed 50%, which seems to be caused by a combination of physical losses (leaks) and commercial losses (broken water meters, water free-of-charge for monasteries and government).
  • There is not enough water production to supply to current service area.
  • Fortunately, Mandalay has the geographical advantage of accessing four different sources: Ayeyarwadi, Sedawgyi and Dohtawadi rivers, as well as a large volume of groundwater which has an excellent base quality.

Current Progress of WaterWorX in Myanmar

  • The project plan of 'Mandalay's Water WorX' has been approved by MCDC, VEI, the WaterWorX programme and has received a no-objection from Development Assistant Coordination Unit (DACU).
  • Implementation are ready to be initiated.

Why Choose Mandalay

  • Many international organizations have been cooperating with YCDC for years, while MCDC also has many challenges
  • It seems the added value of VEI in Mandalay is more apparent, which is why he has been working there under an ADB financed Water Operator Partnership from 2014 – 2017 since the WaterWorX project is a logical follow-up of this cooperation.

His last experience in other country

  • Before working in Myanmar, Adriaan worked mainly in Vietnam.
  • In the Mekong Delta there are very serious long-term challenges such as over-extraction of groundwater and land-subsidence.
  • He worked with three companies on developing Climate Change Adaptation Plans.
  • At the same time, it was very encouraging to see that the Vietnamese water sector is rapidly growing stronger, and more and more able to independently solve its operational challenges such as Non-revenue water (NRW) and water quality.