Resources Preservation: Rivers Need Valuation

5 September 2018

Myanmar’s freshwater river resources need preservation to maintain hidden values along with development of new valuation methods and frameworks.

Globally, rivers have been undervalued as water sources to drive the economic engines of agriculture and energy production although they provide a broader set of benefits for people, economies and nature. Some of the hidden values of them are flood mitigation, sediment delivery, and freshwater fisheries.

The Valuing Rivers report released by WWF international last week stated that the hidden values are generally not measured or prioritized until crises arise. It also highlighted the main components necessary for a framework to value the rivers, which are monitoring and measures, developing valuation methods, understanding tradeoffs and improving governance.

Sustainable Hydropower Specialist, WWF-Myanmar, Christopher Bonzi said “WWF international released the report last week that was called Water Week where we show the value of rivers internationally and mostly all of the countries are very strongly undervalued. The value is not seen and that this has been very dangerous - the impact on nature but also on society by not valuing these rivers.”

Myanmar is currently home to the only long free-flowing rivers left in Southeast Asia – the Thanlwin River and the Ayeyawaddy.

According to the 2018 FAO Report on the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture, Myanmar has the 4th most productive fisheries sector in the world. Fish is estimated to account for approximately 60% animal protein intake in Myanmar and it contributes to 10% of local incomes in the delta in the recent State of the Basin Assessment on Ayeyawaddy.

Sustainable Hydropower Specialist, WWF-Myanmar, Christopher Bonzi said “In Myanmar, the rivers are still quite natural. Myanmar rivers are one of the most diverse in the world. There are also 2 of the last; we call it free-flowing rivers, which are the Thanlwin and Ayeyawaddy rivers, the last largest free-flowing rivers in Southeast Asia. They deliver nutrients to the agriculture. They have a very big diverse fish population which is so important for food and economy. Also so the sediments, so like the sand flowing down the river sustain the deltas because if they stop flowing and the deltas start shrinking and it of course have the tremendous impact on the livelihoods of the people.”

The cooperation among the government, NGOs, CSOs and private sector plays a big role to make sure that the values of the rivers are kept.