By Ian Hamilton
The Mandalay Building Urban Resilience (MBUR) project, financed with a $4 million grant from the Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund (UCCRTF), has trained over 800 stakeholders in climate resilient urban planning and management since its inception in April 2018.
The project is part of the Mandalay Urban Services Improvement Project (MUSIP) of the Asian Development Bank, a $60 million investment that will help the city build a new water treatment plant, upgrade and extend the existing water supply network, and construct the city’s first centralized wastewater collection and treatment plant.
It is an ambitious drive to improve the urban environment and public health of Mandalay. At the moment, there is no piped sewerage system and no centralized wastewater treatment plant. Any discharge goes directly into canals and creeks, leading to waterborne diseases.
In addition, the former royal capital of Myanmar has a rapidly growing population. Census data puts the city’s population at 1.46 million and it is expected to more than double by 2040. The agency tasked with urban service delivery and infrastructure development, the Mandalay City Development Committee (MCDC), is in need of support. It currently is unable to effectively undertake all the responsibilities for urban planning and management due to lack of human and financial resources, limited skills, and planning information.
This prompted MCDC to request for training activities—the MBUR project. They wanted capacity building interventions that would support the city government’s ongoing projects and which are anchored on practical issues rather than theory.
To achieve this, the training activities under the MBUR project were designed to build MCDC’s capacity to implement current projects and address the city’s priority issues with the long-term view of building urban resilience. The training programs developed and conducted for MCDC staff centered on climate resilient urban planning and management. The MBUR project team is also closely working with other ongoing loan and grant subprojects of MUSIP, including the UCCRTF-funded Community-Based Solid Waste Management Project.
On top of this, the project established an urban management database that will lay the foundation for e-governance and urban decision-making processes.
As of mid-March 2019, the MBUR project has organized 39 sessions attended by 801 participants (81% female) comprised of government officials and students of Mandalay Technical University as well as other universities in the region.
Transforming the Thingazar Creek
Along with strengthening local capacity (which is also an aim of MUSIP), the MBUR project recently completed a study on comprehensive landscape improvement measures designed at enhancing the livability of the Thingazar Creek (TGC) area.
The Thingazar Creek is a major priority project focus area under MUSIP, to improve wastewater and solid waste management, as well as raise the living conditions of residents along the creek. The study has been undertaken through capacity building with several departments within MCDC, contributing actively to data collection, analysis, and proposals.
The study includes both hard and soft landscaping bankside proposals which incorporate sustainable urban drainage solutions in relation to local socioeconomic activities, accessibility, solid waste collection points, and the finalized sewer locations. The data collected and analysis undertaken will be used as inputs for a forthcoming training designed to promote the many historic buildings and activities in this part of Mandalay to both local and foreign visitors.