Vice President U Henry Van Thio addresses the World Water Day 2019 ceremony at Myanmar International Convention Centre II
Nay Pyi Taw commemorated World Water Day 2019 at its Myanmar International Convention Centre II yesterday where Vice President U Henry Van Thio, Chairperson of National Water Resources Committee (NWRC), delivered a speech.
History of NWRC
In his speech, the Vice President first summarized the history of the NWRC, which was formed in 2013 and organized annual celebrations for World Water Day starting from 2014. He said the committee aimed to raise the value people place on water, increase research and technology related to it, and promote connections between affiliated organizations.
Message of 2019 World Water Day
The theme for World Water Day 2019 was ‘Leaving no one behind’. Today, 1 billion people were still living without safe water; struggling to survive and thrive, so as to improve their health, education and livelihoods. 2.3 billion people live without proper flushing systems, which affected their health in the long-term.
The whole world was facing water-related difficulties due to environmental damages and climate change. The effects of floods, droughts, typhoons and other natural disasters have affected people’s access to safe water for drinking, irrigation, livestock rearing. This in turn affected people’s livelihoods and the sustainable development of many nations, said the Vice President. He said Myanmar was facing the same set of water-related challenges as other developing countries.
Myanmar, a water-rich nation
The Vice President said Myanmar had abundant water resources, holding 16 per cent of water resources among the ten ASEAN countries and 12 per cent of all Asia. However, with diversity in rainfall, increase in population and population density, the rise of industrial zones and economic zones and other changes to social systems means there would be a rapid increase in demands for water supply and new challenges for providing adequate water to every person, said the Vice President.
He said there were still areas where the basic need for safe water was not fulfilled and unproper dumping of wastewater and chemicals into rivers and streams were still causing water pollution. He said systematic water management processes need to be implemented to solve these issues and develop the water resource sector. He said this was one of the reasons behind forming the NWRC in 2013, which was reformed to accommodate ministry reforms in 2016.
Cooperation with related ministries, int’l orgs
The Vice President said the NWRC was continually partnering with relevant ministries, partner countries, and international organizations to conduct observation programs and projects. Regional cooperation included partnering with ASEAN, the Mekong River Commission, and the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation. He said relevant ministries and city development committees were constructing more infrastructure for storing more water. They were conducting programs to reduce wasting water and to increase conservation.
The Vice President said ministries and stakeholders were actively working together to implement preventive measures against natural disasters. He said the National Disaster Management Committee monitored the activity of cyclone formations, floods, and ocean waves to issue warnings, conduct search and rescue, construct weather resistant buildings, organize education programs for relevant people, and negotiate between departmental organizations to provide capacity building programs.
Water Action Decade
The Vice President highlighted that water was a precious resource central to many of the people’s daily tasks and national processes. As such, in order to accelerate efforts towards meeting water-related challenges, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2018-2028 as the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development”, also known as the Water Action Decade.
The Vice President requested partner countries, local and foreign NGOs to continue their cooperation with the Union Government and relevant ministries to develop the water resource sector. He said managing the country’s water resources was an intrinsic part of developing all of our countries and required everyone’s participation in implementing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to keep the endeavour ongoing.
Event continues second half
Following the Vice President’s speech, a documentary on NWRC’s activities was shown, after which the Vice President took a commemorative photo with all the attendees, and then looked around the commemorative booths for World Water Day 2019.
Union Minister U Thant Sin Maung, who is also NWRC’s Vice Chairman, then continued the second part of the event programme.
Dr. Shwe Hlwan, Patron of Water Mothers Organization (WMO), also delivered a speech related to the theme for this year’s World Water Day and then joined a discussion on the subject led by Professor Dr. Khin Ni Ni Thein together with U Tun Lwin Oo, U Hla Maung Thein and Daw Thin Nwe Soe. After this, separate focus groups engaged in various discussions on the topic of water.
Officials attending include:
Union Ministers Dr. Aung Thu, U Thant Sin Maung, U Win Khaing, U Soe Win, U Han Zaw, Dr. Win Myat Aye and U Kyaw Tin, Nay Pyi Taw Council Chairman Dr. Myo Aung, Deputy Ministers U Tin Myint and U Soe Aung, Region and State Ministers, the mayors of Yangon and Mandalay, WMO Patron Dr. Shwe Hlwan, NWRC members, Hluttaw MPs, permanent secretaries, directors-general, managing directors, university rectors, diplomats, representatives from NGOs, INGOs and UN agencies, individuals working in the water sector, and invited guests.
MNA (Translated by Zaw Htet Oo)