The Delta Academy of the Myanmar-Netherlands Water Challenge 2016 was not to be missed in Yangon last week as a long line of orange umbrellas could be seen marching the city waterfront, port site and even the rural townships across the river. Moreover, anyone listening-in on the action indoors could have easily mistaken it for the local food market as teams were passionately bargaing their deals (note: after this week, the word polderen has been officially adopted into the Myanmar language!).
It all started on Tuesday 10 May as forty selected students and young professionals from nine universities and institutes across Myanmar came together for a 3-day intensive program to learn about sustainable delta development. Through a rich program of case studies, field trips, guest lectures and team assignments they were taken on a journey through the delta: analysing the typical challenges and opportunities of the delta, understanding the underlying drivers, weighing the interests of stakeholders and developing their own ideas and solutions.
Under the Smart Delta theme, participants worked in four teams, representing key stakeholders in the delta: Smart Port, Smart River, Smart City and Smart Village. Each team had to analyse its own particular challenges and come up with possible solutions. In doing so, negotiating with the other teams and finding common ground was critical to achieve integrated solutions that balanced the interests of all stakeholders (note: after the word prikstok, the verb polderen has now also officially been adopted into the Myanmar language!).
Throughout the program, the teams were supported by senior experts from the Dutch partners: Johan Kabout and Tanya Huizer from Arcadis, Hanne van den Berg from Deltares, Mark van der Hoeven and Barbara Malecka from Van Oord, Eisse Wijma and Thet Oo Mon from Royal HaskoningDHV and Aung Myint Oo from the Netherlands Embassy.
The Delta Academy program was closed with a Grand Final on 12 May where the teams presented their ideas and solutions on the big stage to senior representatives from ministries, NGO's, universities, World Bank, WHO, KOICA, local private companies, Yangon City Development Committee and Myanmar Port Authority.
As each team took the stage to pitch their ideas, they were interrogated and judged by a panel of distinguished experts, consisting of Mrs. Carola Baller, Deputy Ambassador of the Netherlands Embassy (chair of the panel), Dr. Zaw Lwin Tun, Director Irrigation Department, Dr. Myo Nyein Aye, Deputy General Manager Myanmar Port Authority, U Khin Latt, Senior Engineer NEPS and U Bobby MG, CEO Network Activities Group (NAG). Ultimately, they announced the Smart River team as the winning team.