March 22, 2017

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Solving the Water Crises

  • Khin Maung Myint

A few days ago, I had written an article in anticipation of the water shortage problems that could be faced during the summer. In that article I cited the examples of water management in Thailand, as to how they solved those problems with various long term plans. In doing so I am not pointlessly praising the Thais, but because I believed that as we are lagging behind others in the region, we have to try and catch up as quickly as possible. To do so, copying the good examples of those who had proven successful is the fastest and easiest way to do it.
When considering ways and means to develop the country, most of our people have the tendency to always look at Singapore as a good model. I agree that Singapore is undoubtedly the most developed in the region, but there is no similarity between us. It’s alright to set Singapore as a targeted goal to beat, but not as an example to copy. Thus if we want to copy from others we should look for in countries that have similar conditions as ours’. In doing so, we should look to our closest neighbours first. Thus, Thailand would be the best model for us where developments are concerned, especially in the rural developments. As our two countries lie abreast to one another, with similar geographical features, weather conditions and also both being agricultural countries, we are almost identical.
In my previous article: “Are we prepared to meet the water shortages?”, I had pointed out the woes of water shortages that our people had to face every year during the summers. Water shortages do not affect only the humans but also the other living things, including trees and plants. Thus, I had clearly pointed out that water is the most essential element for human and animal consumptions and for the agricultural purposes too.
In developing a country it should be an all-round development. Buildings and infrastructures are not the only sectors where development is necessary. The greening of the cities, towns and villages, rehabilitation of the depleted forests and promotion of agricultures are also equally important. So it’s quite clear that just providing water for human consumptions only, will not be enough to solve the water shortage problems. Thus long term solutions such as more dams, diversion weirs and water pumping stations to pump water from lakes, rivers, streams and creeks should be constructed. Water treatment stations to treat water from such places should be also constructed where needed, to make the water safe for consumptions.
In the same issue of the GNLM, where the above article was mentioned, there was a very heartening piece of news. It was about the provision of Kyat two millions each, to nearly 150 villages in 15 townships in the Mandalay Region to solve the acute water shortage problems that could be faced in the coming few days. That was a very thoughtful move as the townships listed are the worst affected by the severe droughts every summer. However, that move will only solve the domestic household water shortage problems. Thus a master plan for the long term water sufficiency for multi-purposes should be formulated and implemented instead of the piecemeal projects.
The Myanmars’ generosities and noble deeds of donations to others in times of need are much praiseworthy and appreciable, and such things are rarely seen in other countries. I applaud and thank them for their noble deeds, but we shouldn’t be relying on them every year to solve the water crises. I would like to emphasize that water shortage is a major issue and provisions of water for human consumptions only, in times of need through donations, is not a solution but an emergency relief. The authorities and departments concerned should make necessary plans for long term water sufficiency, not only for human consumptions but for multi-purposes.
For that matter, we also shouldn’t rely much on the rain waters. With the climate change causing unprecedented droughts all over the world, it is not a reliable source that is shrouded in uncertainty. Furthermore, our dry central zone usually receive very little or negligible amount of rainfalls annually and as they come too late in those areas—only in mid-May or early June—we should not place too much dependence on them.
If I may voice my opinion, I would like to suggest that considerations should be made to implement pumping stations along the main rivers and their tributaries and construct far-reaching canal systems to provide water in the dry central zones. As I had traveled up and down the Ayeyawady River many a times during my career days some forty years ago, I had seen few pumping stations in those areas and noticed the landscapes in their neighbourhoods being covered with lush green vegetations. So. I presume that method would be the best solution instead of constructing expensive dams or reservoirs.
The above mentioned suggestions are just my wishful thinkings, as I am just a layman who don’t belong to that profession, so they may not be as efficient as I thought they would. Thus I will leave it to the professionals and experts in those fields to come up with some sort of viable plans to solve the annual water crises, in the whole country once and for all. They will take time, so I would also like to urge the people to be understanding and patient while the projects are being implemented. Even Thailand is still striving to overcome the water shortage problems today with all the works already done.

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