For those fortunate enough to have access to schemes put in place under a government mandate to irrigate 25 percent of cultivable land in Myanmar, a whole separate set of challenges exist. According to International Water Management Institute or IWMI, less than 16 percent of cultivated land in the Dry Zone currently has irrigation infrastructure in place. Canals are falling into disrepair, electricity costs for pumping remain prohibitively high for government and farmers alike, and the complete absence in many areas of a framework for these groups to work together and resolve conflicts in managing their most precious resource stand in the way of long-term prosperity.
A growing number of voices are entering the conversation to define future prospects for the Dry Zone, and among them is a consortium of NGOs, international research organisations and private entities led by IWMI working with Myanmar’s Irrigation and Water Utilization Management Division (IWUMD) in Sagaing Region’s Myinmu Township. Resources from a wide range of international donors are channeled through the Myanmar-based and UNOPS-managed Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT).