RANGOON— Burma has lost 40 days from its annual monsoon in the past 35 years, leading to severe shortages of water both for consumption and agriculture—but the government has yet to formulate a policy on how to tackle climate change, activists charged Monday.
“We are down from 145 rainy days to 105 days a year. That decrease in rainy days and rainfall has huge implications for the agricultural sector, which involves 70 percent of people this country,” Myint Zaw, an award-winning environmental activist, said on the opening day of an international media conference organized by the Hawaii-based East West Center.
Both the media and policy makers have paid little attention to the larger context of climate change in the changing water and weather situation in Burma, he added. That is despite the huge implications for Burma’s democratic transition and sustainable development, particularly as climate impacts often disproportionately affect the rural poor.
Climate change “doesn’t seem to be a priority issue for the government as yet,” Myint Zaw told Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“They’re preoccupied with achieving economic progress, but if you are unable to adapt to the changing climate, regardless of however hard you try, poverty eradication is going to be very difficult. That’s for sure,” he added.
Aung Myint, general secretary of the Renewable Energy Association Myanmar (REAM), agreed.
“We now have 132 dams. In 2013, we noticed the water in these dams was only 25 percent [of capacity]. This is the sign of climate change, of deterioration of the watersheds,” he said.
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