This year, WLE Greater Mekong (WLE-GM) launched six new projects in the Salween and Irrawaddy River Basins. Although the program has over 10 years of experience working in the Greater Mekong region, this is the first time it has officially funded projects in Myanmar.
To commemorate these projects and the new partnerships they represent, WLE-GM held an Inception Meeting in Yangon on 19 March 2015. Relevant stakeholders from the public and private sectors were invited to interface with the program and project representatives, to ask questions if they had any, and to make recommendations given their unique experiences in Myanmar.
Over 50 people participated, with representation from relevant Burmese government ministries (including agriculture, electric power, and irrigation), private sector companies, academia, NGOs, and other civil society groups. Including the WLE Greater Mekong project partners, over 40 institutions were represented at the meeting.
Swe Swe Aye, Chairperson of the Ayeyarwaddy River Basin Research Organisation (ARBRO),
kicked off the meeting by greeting all of the guests and welcoming them to the workshop. “Recognizing that Myanmar is a country with staggering water resources and large development demands, we welcome this opportunity to collaborate with colleagues and practitioners from the Mekong Region and internationally to discover new solutions that will strengthen Myanmar’s development processes in environmentally and socially acceptable ways,” she stated. “I look forward to participating in our discussions this morning, and to learning about the WLE and its work in Myanmar and the Mekong Region.”
After a brief introduction of the program by Dr. Kim Geheb, the WLE Regional Coordinator in the Greater Mekong, the participants broke into smaller groups and had an opportunity to talk to representatives from each of the six projects. The discussion was lively and dynamic, given the great diversity of expertise and backgrounds. The projects gained useful insight into the issues that are most pertinent to the communities and organizations living and working in the Salween and Irrawaddy basins. There was a great deal of learning and sharing that happened on both sides, with opportunities for further collaboration developing from short but intense conversations.
“This workshop reassured me that our R4D model will work in Myanmar,” said Dr. Geheb, “because of the dynamic dialogue that took place and because of the diversity of participants. If we can bring so many stakeholders together for the Inception Meeting, we are in good shape going forwards.”
To learn more about the projects in Myanmar, please visit the project pages and feel free to contact the project leads and partners: