Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Government outlines priority climate change projects

Climate change will bring more extreme weather events but its impact in Myanmar can be reduced through a range of projects, says a report recently submitted to the United Nations.

Myanmar’s first National Adaptation Programs of Action (NAPA) on climate change report was sent to the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change in May. The report highlighted 32 priority projects that the authors say urgently need to be implemented to reduce damage due to future climate change events.

The report identified projects where urgent action was needed in the areas of agriculture, early warning systems, forestry, public health, water resources, coastal zones, energy and industry, and biodiversity.

First priority was given to agriculture, early warning systems and forestry, with lower priority being given to public health and water resources, then coastal zones, energy and industry and biodiversity.

U Tin Ngwe, a former director general of the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology (DMH) and director of the NAPA project management team, said deforestation had increased Myanmar’s susceptibility to climate-related disasters.

“The early-warning sector is important to save lives and reduce losses. Lack of equipment for weather forecasting is still a challenge in the DMH. That’s why the sector is at the first priority level,” U Tin Ngwe said.

In agriculture, the report recommends mechanisation and new rice varieties to ensure food security in areas most vulnerable to climate change. It also calls for reforestation and improvements to weather observation capacity through a mobile weather radar system, which would provide earlier warnings of extreme weather events.

The report stated that climate-related hazards or extreme weather events, deforestation and diminishing water resources have already affected agriculture, water, energy, public health and natural resources. A temperature increase of 0.08 Celsius per decade had been observed across the whole country, and particularly in the northern and central regions, from 1951 to 2007.

Extended dry seasons and increased temperatures have brought more droughts. In 2010, severe drought diminished village water sources across the country and severely impacted yields of peas, sugar cane, tomato, and rice.

By 2100, the report said, the increase in temperature and other climate-related changes across the country will bring more extreme weather events, including cyclones, strong winds, floods, storm surges, intense rains, extreme high temperatures and drought. This in turn could affect employment and national income.

Minister for Transport U Nyan Tun Aung said the implementation of the NAPA proposals would benefit rural communities and the nation by promoting sustainable development.