Inle Lake is an area experiencing multiple pressures with an urgent need for change and to reverse the environmental damage that has been done. The lake is an important asset for local agriculture; in addition, it is key to Inle as a tourist destination. Measures to improve the environment in and around Inle Lake are decisive for continued, sustainable development in the area.
Inappropriate, excessive use of manure in agriculture on and by the lake as well as deficient waste management threaten the natural environment in and around Inle Lake, which is the mainspring of activity in the area. It is where people live and it provides the basis for agriculture and fishing, as well as being a transport artery. Moreover, Inle Lake is one of Myanmar’s principal tourist attractions and lake-centred tourism is on the rise.
Sustainable resource management
As part of the work to save Inle Lake, PfC has programmes to raise awareness of sustainable resource management and environmental sustainability. We work to raise awareness and change attitudes, among other things by working through schools and monasteries in the area. PfC provides training in and tools for improved waste management, waste sorting and to explore opportunities to use less-polluting boats.
Waste disposal system
PfC has started a pilot project aimed at improving the current waste collection system in the village of Nyaung Shwe which lies on the shore of Inle Lake. The idea is that the project will be scaled up eventually to include the entire village as well as other villages surrounding the lake. The project was developed in close cooperation with local authorities and local inhabitants. The idea is simple: to establish an effective system that enables the municipality to do its job with its very limited resources. So far, the project has been a success and received considerable backing among the local population. It has also been mentioned in the publications Myanmar Times and Frontier Magazine. Among other things, two new waste collection trucks have been donated to tackle the challenges highlighted by the project.
As part of the waste management project, we have been in touch with local schools where pupils are actively contributing to our project. PfC has organised dedicated events to raise awareness and focus on recycling.
More environmentally friendly boat engines
PfC has also taken the initiative for a project to develop quiet and environmentally friendly boat engines. We have had a pilot engine installed on our own “Quiet boat” on Inle Lake. Use of the pilot engine is one way of spreading the word among the locals who transport tourists and goods on the lake. After a year’s local innovation work we have constructed a cheap but effective silencer which reduces engine noise significantly compared with the engines that are typically used. The next challenge is to get some of the 3000 boats operating on the lake to start using this solution.
An indirect outcome of our work is that the problem of noise has attracted much publicity and the issue is now informing the debate to preserve Inle Lake. Various stakeholders are now working on a range of solutions. PfC has taken on a coordinating role for the various initiatives and is encouraging dialogue and offering support to those working towards the same objectives.