World Bank Group member, International Finance Corp., in September signed an advisory services agreement with the government of Myanmar to help improve environmental and social risk management in hydropower projects, according a press release from the IFC.
Myanmar has recently approved a new electricity law and is finalizing the procedures for environmental impact assessment.
The release said 34 million people, or about 66% of the Myanmar population, does not have access to electricity. To address this constraint, the government has set a target of increasing the electrification rate to 50% by 2020.
The World Energy Council estimates the hydropower potential of Myanmar’s four main rivers -- Irrawaddy, Thanlwin, Chindwin and Sittaung -- at 100,000 MW, but said that less than 10% of the potential has been harnessed.
In published reports, U Hein Htet, deputy director general, Department of Electric Power Planning, Ministry of Electric Power, Union of Myanmar said, “We have an opportunity now to push hydropower development in the right direction. We want hydropower projects in Myanmar to set new standards and to meet good international and industry practices.”
As part of the cooperation agreement, IFC and Myanmar will commission a countrywide strategic environmental assessment of the hydropower sector. IFC will also provide policy guidance and training on other important areas, such as environmental flows management, benefit-sharing arrangements, and stakeholder engagement.
“The World Bank Group wants to play a pivotal role in supporting the development of a sustainable hydropower sector, as part of its efforts to help Myanmar achieve a balanced energy mix,” said Vikram Kumar, IFC Myanmar resident representative.
IFC’s efforts to promote a more sustainable hydropower sector in Myanmar build on lessons learned from its work in Lao PDR. Since 2012, IFC has been working with the government of Lao PDR, hydropower companies and banks to improve risk management and address environmental and social issues associated with hydropower development. The hydropower program in Myanmar, funded by the Australian government, began in January this year.