The UNDP has launched this year a climate change adaptation project in the dry zone titled, “Addressing Climate Change Risk on Water Resources and Food Security in the Dry Zone of Myanmar.” This is according to a press release from UNDP Myanmar last 17 February.

The $7.9 million project is designed to capacitate farmers in adapting to changing weather patterns as a result of climate change by providing timely information for planning planting schedules. It will also provide necessary infrastructural support including the construction of canals and water pumps and the rehabilitation of 5,000 hectares of watershed area to minimize erosion.

The project’s focus are the areas of Shwebo and Monywa, Sagaing Region; Myin Chan and Nyaung Oo, Mandalay region; and Chauk in Magway Region.

Myanmar’s dry zone is one of the country’s most vulnerable areas to climate change. According to the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), the zone has one of the “highest levels of poverty and food insecurity” owing to its ecological landscape and condition: dehydrated soil, low fertility, and high rainfall variability. among others.

IRIN News also reported that while 60 percent of households are farmers, most households have short food stocks and many have difficulty meeting their everyday food needs. The poor harvest as a result of the inability to grow crops due to poor water supply has also resulted to malnutrition and has driven households to incur high levels of debt.

In the launching last 17 February in Mandalay, H.E. U Ye Myint, Chief Minister of the Mandalay Region, pointed out that the project will make an important difference in the dry zone by making available clean water, increasing farmers’ agricultural production, and providing the landless alternative livelihood.

Nicholas Rosellini, UNDP Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, also noted that as a “first active project on the ground” on climate change in the country, it will serve as Myanmar’s first step to further building its capacities in development planning.

Project funding is from the UNDP and the Adaptation Fund in Myanmar, and implementation is in partnership with the regional governments of Mandalay, Sagaing and Magway and the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry.

Keywords: climate change, farming, Burma, Dry Zone, water management