Irrawaddy River

Myanmar is an important case study area within the S-MultiStor project. The country is rapid development in irrigation and hydropower infrastructure are important components within the development of the country. However, the development of river and wetland infrastructure could severely impact on the ecosystem services that the poorest sectors of society are reliant on. Infrastructure could lead to major flow alteration, and loss of connectivity, impacting on fisheries and sediment transport, two critical components to maintaining ecosystem services within Myanmar. IHE Delft is working closely with Yangon Technological University (YTU), the main local partner within the project to build awareness and capacity in relation to environmental flows. Environmental flows are not currently considered within infrastructure planning or operations, but are needed to be able to find a balance between the different uses of water, and critical for maintaining ecosystem services.

Along with other project partners such as WWF, The Nature Conservancy, Fauna and Flora International, and International Finance Corporation a Stage 0 workshop has been held where 130 local and international people came together to hold a symposium on environmental flows and a technical workshop (see Workshop Report). The information gathered from this workshop as well as other literature and interviews will result in a ‘State of Knowledge’ report on environmental flows in Myanmar. In addition, YTU has two PhDs now working directly on environmental flows projects with another one already completed.

In 2019, one of the PhDs will be completed, and another workshop will be held. This workshop will focus on the development of a national framework for environmental flows for Myanmar. It is envisioned that this framework will help to guide infrastructure development in relation to including environmental flows in the planning stages, as well as a capacity development component for Myanmar government and NGOs.

Breakout groups at the Stage 0 technological workshop which include a mix of Myanmar nationals (left), NGOs, private sector and international lenders such as ADB and (right) Inspecting infrastructure as part of environmental flow studies being conducted by Yangon Technological University.

Dr John Conallin from IHE Delft and Professor Win Win Zin from Yangon Technological University presenting at the Stage 0 environmental Flows Workshop, hosted by IHE Delft and Yangon Technological University.


Under the S-MultiStor project, within the Myanmar focal basin environmental flows group (including key partners Yangon Technological University, Myanmar Maritime University, WWF Myanmar, and the International Finance Corporation) has been established to try and tackle the challenges within flow management and releases from hydropower and multipurpose dams. Currently Myanmar has no environmental flows requirements and no way forward for including environmental flows within water resource planning. The group was set up to work with the various government departments involved in dams in the country and find ways forward for establishing an environmental flows framework within the country. In 2018, two PhD fellows from Yangon Technological University have been undertaking research into establishing environmental flows recommendations for different river systems below big dams, and using various modelling tools to determine these flows. In addition Myanmar Maritime University has been undertaking studies into establishing an environmental flows program for Pazundaung Creek, a tributary near Yangon, and an important water source for both domestic and irrigation use.

Myanmar Maritime University Researchers and researchers from TU Delft conducting fieldwork into determining an environmental flows program for Pazundaung Creek in Myanmar


Under the S-MultiStor project, within the Myanmar focal basin a Fish Migration group has been established to highlight the need for consideration of fish migration at river and wetland water based infrastructure and investigate ways to and improve fish migration at different water infrastructure. The group is mainly focussed on multipurpose low head irrigation infrastructure where fish migration can be enhanced. At a national level, the group is working with various NGOS and government ministries to ensure that fish migration is included in infrastructure and system scale planning An important outreach initiative at a global level for fish migration is World Fish Migration Day, a biennial event, highlighting the need for fish migration and its relation to food security and biodiversity. In 2018, the S-MultiStor project supported two World Fish Migration Day events, one in Myanmar at Indawgyi Lake and one in Delft at IHE Delft. The event in Myanmar included WWF and Fauna and Flora International and over 100 local people. The event in Delft included a wicked debate on dams and fish migration.

IHE Delft experts from the different departments debate the need to consider fish migration within dam planning and management, and dams effect on biodiversity and food security in relation to fish.