National Water Resources Committee (NWRC)
NWRC is chaired by the Vice President II of The Republic of the Union of Myanmar. Members of NWRC are Union Ministers from 8 water-nexus-ministries, State and Regional Government Representatives, Mayors, few Permanent Secretaries and Director Generals from key departments, and Representatives of the Advisory Group (AG). Focal Ministry of NWRC is MOTC (Ministry of Transport and Communications).
8 Water Nexus Ministries
- Ministry of Office of the Union Government
- Ministry of Border Affairs (MOBA)
- Ministry of Planning, Finance and Industry (MOPFI)
- Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MOALI)
- Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTC) (Focal Ministry)
- Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC)
- Ministry of Electricity and Energy (MOEE)
- Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement (MOSWRR)
Organizational Structure of NWRC
Vision and Mission of NWRC
“In 2040 Myanmar will become water efficient nation with well-developed and sustainable water resources based on fully functional integrated water resources management system”.
“To lead, empower and support all actors of Myanmar’s water sector through Union Government and State and Regional Governments by ensuring good water governance, good water legislations, effective institutional arrangements, decision support systems, advice serving systems, knowledge, know-how, technology and financing mechanisms”.
Expected Benefits – better economy & quality of life, sustainable water resources & ecosystem, peace and gross national happiness
Promoting Participatory Approach in Myanmar Water Sector
NWRC is now providing the supervision of AIRBM project being implemented by Directorate of Water Resources and Improvement of River Systems (DWIR) under the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTC). AIRBM is in operation with three components which cover Water Resources Management Institutions, Decision Support Systems and Capacity Building, Hydro-met Observation and Information Systems Modernization and Ayeyarwady River Navigation Enhancements.
All components are taking care of stakeholders’ concerns and feedbacks by bringing the participatory approach through public consultation meetings/workshops. Multi-stakeholders Forum (MSF) under the mandate of Component (1) of AIRBM Project is being structured with two building blocks as Steering Committee and Core Group. Besides, the regional forums will be there mobilizing the active professionals and university students. There are many public consultation meetings carried out for water legislation, State of the Basin Assessment, Decision Support System (DSS) and Basin Master Plan (BMP). For more information about DSS and BMP, link to HIC tab
Enhancement of stakeholders’ participation in water management process is also making a partial contribution to the achievement of SDG 6 in Myanmar.
Myanmar’s Water Sector
Setting and economy. Myanmar is the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia with a land area of about 654,000 km2 and a population of about 52 million. Myanmar has also the lowest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita and one of the highest poverty rates in Southeast Asia. Since 2011, Myanmar is transitioning towards democracy, free markets, and national and regional integration. The pace of change in Myanmar is rapid and expectations are high. Its geographic location between China, India and Thailand, and more than 2,800 km of coastline, leave it well positioned to resume its traditional role as a regional trading hub and key supplier of minerals, natural gas and agricultural produce.
Abundant water resources. Myanmar is endowed with abundant natural resources, including land and water. It has four important rivers which are Ayeyarwady, Chindwin, Sittaung and Thanlwin. The large difference in wet and dry season flow creates significant risks as well as significant development opportunities. Water demand is rising due to economic development and population growth while water quality is also degraded and climate change advances. The degree of development of water resources is much less than other countries in the region. Less than 5% of the annual water resources is consumptively used while inter-seasonal storage is insignificant. As a result, it is necessary to utilize Myanmar’s rivers and water resources more efficiently and wisely.
The water sector is key for Myanmar’s development strategy. There are ambitious plans and proposals to further develop the country’s water resources for hydropower, irrigation, navigation, flood management and other uses. The sustainable development of Myanmar’s water resources can contribute to economic growth, poverty alleviation, and national and regional integration. It is crucial however that water resources are developed wisely so that major environmental degradation seen in other countries can be avoided, and that the natural resource base which underscores many livelihoods is not eroded. This requires the implementation of IWRM, including coordinated water resources planning at the national, basin and local levels, and the integration of all costs and benefits in the planning approach.
Institutional framework needs improvement. Currently water management responsibilities are distributed across many agencies. There are overlaps and gaps, with no one agency responsible for overall surface and groundwater management. This may have been workable in the past, but in a situation of accelerated water resources development it is essential to establish the overall water resources management function to ensure sustained economic growth and poverty reduction. The relationship between the Union Government and State/Region Governments with regards to water and natural resource management issues continues to evolve. Capacity at all levels need strengthening. Currently, the AIRBM Project is supporting an institutional review and options assessment.
National Water Resources Committee (NWRC) established. In July 2013, the NWRC was established by Presidential decree to provide high-level coordination to manage the broad inter-related risks and opportunities of Myanmar’s water resources, and recommend water related development pathways for the country. The NWRC is chaired by a Vice President and has broad representation from all the agencies with water interests. The NWRC is supported by Secretariat within the Directorate of Water Resources and Improvement of River Systems (DWIR), a Hydro-Informatics Center (HIC), and an Advisory Group with participation of Government agencies and the broader Myanmar community.
Water policy adopted. In March 2014, the National Water Policy (NWP) of Myanmar was approved. It is the first integrated water policy for the watersheds, rivers, lakes and reservoirs, groundwater aquifers and coastal and marine waters of all of Myanmar. The policy is being used as an umbrella and as guidance for the further development of policies, institutions, legal instruments, and strategies, development plans, master plans and projects that relate to or have an impact on Myanmar’s water resources.
For more information of AIRBM project, link to https://www.airbm.org/
NWRC’s Mandate in the context of AIRBM Project
NWRC’s Work in Water Sector Reform
The Need for a Reform: the integrated approach called Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) and is defined as a process which promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources in order to maximize economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems. (GWP)
Water policy and management need to reflect the fundamentally interconnected nature of hydrological resources, and IWRM is the accepted alternative to the sector-by-sector, top-down management style that has dominated the past. The basis of IWRM is that the many different uses of water resources are interdependent. For example, high irrigation demands and polluted drainage flows from agriculture mean less freshwater for drinking or industrial use; contaminated municipal and industrial wastewater pollutes rivers and threatens ecosystems; if water has to be left in a river to protect fisheries and ecosystems, less can be diverted to grow crops. (Source: GWP Resources)
Enabling Environment for IWRM in Myanmar
A proper enabling environment establishes the rights and assets of all stakeholders (individuals as well as public and private sector organizations and companies, women as well as men, the poor as well as the better off), while ensuring for environmental quality. The enabling environment essentially consists of “rules of the game” that are laid out as to achieve a sustainable balance between the social, economic and environmental needs for water. These rules can be defined by the use of: (1) Policies; (2) Legislative Frameworks; and (3) Financing and Investment Structures. (Source: GWP Resources)
The enabling environment is determined by national, provincial and local policies and legislation that constitute the “rules of the game” and facilitates all stakeholders to play their respective roles in the sustainable development and management of water resources.
Financing and Investment Structures
Water and Peace
Three Pillars of NWRC
There are three pillars of NWRC to support its strategy and action plans and to bring Myanmar a rich country enabling the improvement of water use efficiency and poverty alleviation. Its three pillars are NWRC Secretariat as an integration body, Advisory Group (AG) as a think-tank and Hydro-Informatics Centre (HIC) as an operation arm.
The NWRC Secretariat has a range of NWRC support functions and will comprise various units: (i) NWRC secretariat services, (ii) policy, outreach, liaison and development promotion, (iii) water allocation and governance units for the main basins, zones and regions of Myanmar (e.g. Ayeyarwady River Basin, Salween River Basin, Delta area). The junior government officers as representative persons from 7 water-nexus-ministries are now working in the NWRC Secretariat office to enhance the integration between the relevant government institutions and to make sure smooth running of the NWRC’s activities.
Water-Nexus Ministries, DSS and BMP Work Flow Chart
Advisory Group (AG)
Advisory Group acts as a Think Tank and works closely with the NWRC Secretariat. Primary advisors appointed by the Presidential decree is (12) in total. However, due to various issues related to specialised subjects and specialised fields of experience, the part-time and auxiliary AGs amount to more than 30 at present. All are volunteer contributors who wish to contribute to the Myanmar Water Sector Reform.
Hydro-Informatics Centre (HIC)
Hydro-Informatics Centre (HIC) was established in 2014. It is the knowledge base and “engine room” of NWRC, government agencies (and other organizations) by using the Decision Support System (DSS) and Advice Serving System to produce valuable information from basic data to support the development of new policies, IWRM Master Plans, feasibility studies, and evaluation of sectoral master plans, dispute resolution tools, etc. to achieve sustainable development in Myanmar.
For the time being, HIC is being sponsored by the Component (1), AIRBM project including the construction of NWRC HQ and HIC permanent building in Mayangone, Yangon and development of its intellectual property in terms of staff development and capacity building. For more information, link to HIC Tab