What is the problem we are trying to tackle?
Monywa Industrial Zone in Sagaing region has been operating since 20th July 1999 with a total of 535 factories. The largest sector is currently manufacturing of machinery and equipment with 144 factories, and other sectors include apparel (59 factories), timber and wooden products (59 factories), oil (55 factories), transport vehicles (35 factories), beans and legumes processing (28 factories), noodle production (25 factories), cotton (20 factories), flour (20 factories), vermicelli production (11 factories), leather (5 factories) and miscellaneous (70 factories). Monywa Industrial Zone Committee made efforts to manage industrial pollution since 2004, building one 2.5 acres wide storage pond and two 4 acres wide storage ponds to control the effluents from the industries. The construction of these waste water storage ponds at that time was done without sufficient technical knowledge, and the ponds became highly polluted. The committee was also in discussion with a Thai company to install wastewater treatment facility in 2013 but that initiative did not come to fruition. As the operation of the industrial zone continues over the years, the environmental pollution issues and complaints from nearby communities have noticeably increased because of the contamination from the untreated discharge of effluents and odor caused by the factories.
What do we do to address it?
The aforementioned issues have led the committee to seek support in managing their environmental pollution with Advancing Life and Regenerating Motherland (ALARM), an initiative focused on addressing environmental challenges in Myanmar. An initial consultation meeting to explore ways of addressing the issue, was conducted on the 15th of August 2017 in Monywa Industrial Zone Hall. The participants include officials from Environmental Conservation Department, Industrial Supervision and Inspection Department, City Development Committee, industrial zone committee, factory owners, villagers from nearby communities and representatives from Asia Foundation and ALARM. From the discussions, the following points have been agreed by all stakeholders;
- Centralized wastewater treatment system to be prioritized rather than individual treatment systems due to financial limitations.
- Zone-wise environmental management plan to be prepared.
- Start-up fund to be raised and an account to be set up.
Based on the above-mentioned points, the “Plan for Initial Assessment for Monywa Industrial Zone Pollution Management” has been set up and has submitted to the regional authority for their consideration and support. According to the plan, the Monywa Industrial Zone Committee took the lead in forming the Management Committee and raised and set up the start-up fund for implementation of the plan. ALARM, with funding support from The Asia Foundation, take the responsibility of providing technical support to the Monywa Industrial Zone for effective implementation of the plan. The implementation period is 6 months (September 26, 2017 to March 31, 2018). The objectives of the project are to support the Monwya Industrial Zone Committee for implementation of the Plan for Monwya Industrial Zone Pollution Management, to increase the level of awareness and knowledge on industrial pollution management and to explore options for design and business development of wastewater treatment system .The main activities are measurement of environmental pollution in the industrial zone, design study for wastewater treatment plant, organizing the Consultative workshop and conducting the training on Environmental Management Plan. The consultative workshop for Monwya wastewater treatment plant was held on 30th June,2018 at Monwya in order to establish all-inclusive system together with the key stakeholders like government, public and private sector and to discuss the financial matter. Moreover, the training on the Environmental Management Plan(EMP) was carried out from 23rd to 25th January 2018 at Monwya Industrial Hall at Monwya and the objective of this workshop is to share about the environmental laws, rules and regulations related to the industry sector, the detailed procedures of EMP, and water sampling techniques, to find out the solutions with regard to the problems faced by the industries, and to give awareness about the importance of the environmental management and the mutual benefits to the industry.
The detailed survey for Jar Test at Monwya Industrial Zone was conducted from 12th to 16th March 2018 in order to estimate the actual discharge of each factory of the industrial zone and to test the Jar test for the waste water treatment project. During the Detail Survey trip, all the data from the 16 factories are collected and included in estimation of the Waste Water Treatment Plant Project. As the resulting estimated data are really closed to the actual situation of the concerned Industries, the waste water treatment project will be more feasible for the Monywa Industries and also for the Treatment Company.
What has ALARM achieved?
- Got the financial aid by the Asia Foundation
- Better coordination among the civil society organizations, private sector and the public
- Being able to help in establishing the Waste Water Treatment Plant for the Monwya Industrial zone
- Increasing the awareness of the business men of the Monwya industrial zone with regard to the Industrial zone pollution
- Free from the environmental pollution effect by the neighbored villagers
- This project strengthened collaboration and coordination among civil society and private and public sector for effective and efficient management of adverse impacts from industrial pollution without deterring the economic growth. The factories, including all factory workers(over 3,000 persons),primarily benefited from securing the legal and social license to operate, while the community form nearby affected villages, including Sar Kyin village and Ywa Htaung village, got benefits from improved environmental conditions. It is also the achievement of collaborations between different parties and example of private-public partnership for addressing environmental issues and will become the model for other industrial zones in Myanmar.
- The activities of this project have helped with addressing the issue of water pollution problem in Monywa Industrial Zone. The process for the construction of centralized waste water treatment plant has already been underway and also got promising support from Sagaing Regional Government.
How are we learning and improving?
- There were some issues such as difficulty to obtain secondary data from some factories, as they were operating more like family businesses. There was also limited data available at the industrial zone office.
- For considering different alternatives of plant designs and technologies, there was difficulty in determining the exact volume of waste water generated as the canals are open canals and other factories also use the canals for their discharge of waste water.
- There was always a challenge of getting all the factory owners to be completely on board with the idea that solving environmental issues is essential to continuing their businesses. But by the end of the project, through project activities, many meetings, EMP trainings and pressure from the government to comply with the environmental quality guidelines, it could be seen that the mindset of the factory owners has changed and they have become eager to invest in the construction of waste water treatment plant for betterment of their environment
- Collaborate with the Regional government of Sagaing Region and the business men of Monywa Industrial zone and giving the required technical inputs to them