The Myanmar Institute for Integrated Development (MMID) seeks to address the need for a sustainable management system for the lake region and to educate local residents about the dangers facing the lake.
“Inle Lake is facing severe challenges, as users of the region’s ecosystem, whether knowingly or unknowingly, exploit environmental resources with little consideration of conservation,” said Joern Kristensen, executive director of the institute.
“There needs to be more focus on building awareness among local people,” he added.
The institute selected 10 people aged 19 to 30 from among more than 50 applicants for the project.
“We hope that they will be able to have a big influence on the people living in the area,” Kristensen said, “including those whose livelihoods are connected to the lake.”
The successful candidates went through three weeks of training in September, and are expected to reach out to local communities and assess the challenges in a campaign that begins this week and lasts until March.
“Local communities must be involved in the conservation of their environments in order to avoid past errors,” said the institute’s Martin Michalon, who trained the youths.
The 10 ambassadors will then present their findings and policy suggestions to stakeholders at a conference next March.
Located in Shan’s Nyaungshwe township, Inle Lake is Myanmar’s second-largest freshwater body, and has huge economic potential in agriculture and tourism.
However, the increasing rate of development in the area in recent years has deteriorated the ecosystem, threatening the health, livelihoods, and environment of local communities.
Significant effects are becoming apparent, such as the shrinking number of fish and worsening water quality, which impacts lake dwellers’ health.
The Inle Lake Ambassador Programme will be formally launched on Wednesday.
MMID focuses on inclusive socioeconomic development and poverty alleviation in rural areas.