Hydro-Informatics Centre (HIC)

Hydro-Informatics Centre (HIC) was established in 2014 under the auspices of the National Water Resources Committee (NWRC) to function as the future decision-support organ for water resources development and management in Myanmar. Hydro-Informatics Centre (HIC) is one of the three pillars of NWRC and now being developed to become a knowledge-base and “engine room” of NWRC, government agencies (and other organizations) by using the Decision Support System (DSS) and Advice Serving System to produce valuable information from basic data to support the development of new policies, IWRM Master Plans, feasibility studies, and evaluation of sectoral master plans, dispute resolution tools, etc. to achieve sustainable development in Myanmar. HIC led by Component (1) Director of AIRBM Project (Secretary of AG) is being operated under the supervision of NWRC and its Advisory Group (AG); current human resources amount to 22. HIC will become a water operation centre and decision support system of NWRC, and besides, it is a research-based non-profit self-financing centre for NWRC, the government of Myanmar, universities, research centers, other institutions and clients.

History of HIC and NWRC

  • 1991 – Hydro-Informatics discipline in IHE, Delft was born
  • May 30th, 1994 – A Myanmar student awarded as first Ph.D. of Hydro-Informatics in IHE, Delft, Netherlands
  • May 15th, 1995 – International Conference on Water Sector Reform in Myanmar, ISS, The Hague, Netherlands
  • 1997 – Conference on Constitutional Protection of Myanmar’s Water and Environment in Bangkok
  • 2000 – Joining the Global Water Partnership
  • 2001 – Water and Peace documentary made in Myanmar
  • 2002 – Myanmar Water Partnership activities began in Myanmar
  • 2003 until 2011 – Capacity Building by non-state actors and Myanmar Water Partnership
  • 2011-12 – Green Economy and Green Growth activities
  • 2012 – Sustainable Water Resources Development Standing Committee (SWRDSC) was formed by the President of Myanmar
  • 2012-13 – SWRDSC to NWRC – National Water Resources Committee established on 25th July 2013
  • 2016 – NWRC was reestablished on 20th June 2016 by the Presidential decree
  • 2019 – NWRC Law has been drafted and HIC included as the water operation centre and DSS Arm
  • 2020 – NWRC Law

Locations of HIC from 2014 to 2019

  • 2014 – 2015 Yangon Technological University (YTU)
  • 2015 – 1st Young Water Professionals (YWP) Training at HIC on the premises of YTU
  • 2016 – 2nd Young Water Professionals (YWP) Training at HIC on the premises of DWIR which has been an implementing agency of AIRBM Project
  • 2017 – 3rd Young Water Professionals (YWP) Training at HIC on the premises of DWIR which has been an implementing agency of AIRBM Project
  • 2018 – 4th Young Water Professionals (YWP) Training at NWRC HQ/ HIC Interim Office which is located at 7th and 8th Floor, No. (138-D) Park Lane Condominium, New University Avenue Road, Bahan Township, Yangon
  • 2019 – 5th Young Water Professionals (YWP) Training at NWRC HQ/ HIC Interim Office which is located at 7th and 8th Floor, No. (138-D) Park Lane Condominium, New University Avenue Road, Bahan Township, Yangon
  • 2020 – 6th Young Water Professionals (YWP) Training at HIC on the premises of DWIR which has been an implementing agency of AIRBM Project

The AIRBM project is now financing the construction of a new building to house headquarter of NWRC and HIC. The permanent NWRC HQ/HIC building will be located at 8-mile, Mayangone Township, Yangon. The project has been supporting the development of HIC’s capacity to deliver priority Hydro-Informatics “products”, which include Ayeyarwady DSS, Basin Master Plan (BMP), World Water Day proceedings, various research and commercial materials, training manuals, etc.

A contemporary and functional Decision Support System (DSS) that includes spatial and non-spatial databases, a global positioning system (GPS), remote sensing technology, communication systems, a set of hydrological, hydrodynamic, sediment transport, and water quality models, and a range of analysis and reporting tools is the main product and high in demand. HIC also produces an effective web portal with easy to use mapping and visualization tools to facilitate stakeholder access to the information. The name of the web portal is www.myanmarofficialwaterportal.gov.mm which will be on air by World Water Day 2020.

HIC's Vision

Well-equipped and efficient water management centre, which promotes IWRM and water-based economy in Myanmar

HIC's Mission

  • To provide quality services to the National Water Resources Committee (NWRC), such as assessment, simulation, modelling, decision support system, advice serving system, research, innovation, capacity building, and hydro-informatics tools
  • To support the Advisory Group of NWRC with science and evidence-based research work and publications
  • To support NWRC’s work to build the water efficient nation with well-developed and sustainable water resources, based on fully functional integrated water resources management system

HIC's Main Activity

  • The Decision Support System (DSS) services the Myanmar populace with an integrated suite of tools.
  • The Ayeyarwady Basin Master Plan summarizes the current water-related trends, development plans, describes the future water needs, risks, and opportunities.
  • Produce advice serving system and WISDM database
  • Publishing water knowledge and hydro-informatics research

Role of HIC in the Myanmar Water Sector

  1. Water Operation Centre for NWRC
  2. Water Sector Advising Serving System generator
  3. Decision Support System for clients (Governments, Private Sector, Universities, Institutions, Associations, NGOs, Research Groups, Foundations, Development Partners, and Individuals)
  4. Water Capacity Building Centre
  5. Knowledge Base (Engine Room)
  6. Resource Base
  7. Self-reliance national knowledge body, a reliable platform for execution of Government’s major projects with people’s interest

Since 2016, the NWRC is chaired by the Vice President H.E. U Henry Van Thio. Union Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Regional Ministers, Mayors, Permanent Secretaries, Director Generals from water-related Ministries plus the Chair and Secretary of Advisory Group joined the committee as members. The Secretary of the NWRC is the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Transport and Communication (MOTC) and the Joint-Secretary of the NWRC is the Director General of the Directorate of Water Resources and Improvement of River Systems, MOTC.

The NWRC has three pillars:

  1. NWRC Secretariat
  2. Advisory Group (AG)
  3. Hydro-Informatics Centre (HIC)

Component 1 of the AIRBM project includes the institutional development of the Hydro-Informatics Centre (HIC) as well as construction of the NWRC HQ and HIC building. HIC’s business model is that after the World Bank (WB) project, it will become financially self-sufficient water management centre of the NWRC and Myanmar, a focal point for water. Hence, it is a hub among water research and innovation communities in Myanmar. HIC is the heart of the scientific, technology and evidence-based communication and decision support organ for all multi-stakeholders.  It will remain apolitical for the sake of integrity. HIC’s main activity is to support NWRC in fulfilling its mandate.

  • Water, energy and food security are interlinked and interdependent.
  • Our national water budget is limited. We are environmentally limited too.
  • Know our own risk!
  • We must fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 as committed by the Government of Myanmar.

“…Any strategy that focuses on one part of the water-food-energy nexus without considering its interconnections risks serious unintended consequences…”

 

World Economic Forum
  Global Risk Report 2011

Products of HIC

The Ayeyarwady State of the Basin Assessment (SOBA) is one of the major knowledge outputs of the Ayeyarwady Integrated River Basin Management (AIRBM) Project prepared by Hydro-Informatics Centre (HIC).

HIC's Business Model

The capacity of the HIC will be gradually developed in three five-year periods as an independent institute that is not directly part of one of the water sector ministries, as described below. HIC’s business model is that after the AIRBM project being financed by the World Bank, it will become a research-based non-profit consultancy firm for the government of Myanmar, universities, research centers, other institutions and clients.  It will remain apolitical for the sake of integrity.

Phase 1: 2016-2020

During the first five years, the AIRBM will support the development of the capacity of the HIC by providing technical assistance and funding for the development and use of HIC’s Decision Support System (DSS) for river basin planning. The DSS will include hydro-informatics tools such as spatial and non-spatial databases, a global positioning system (GPS), remote sensing technology, and a set of hydrological, hydrodynamic, sediment transport, and water quality models. HIC will also maintain an effective web portal with easy to use mapping and visualization tools to facilitate stakeholder access to the information.

The capacity of the HIC staff will be developed “on-the-job” during the development and use of the DSS for achieving AIRBMP outputs, such as the Ayeyarwady State of the Basin Assessment (SOBA) Report, the assessment of basin-wide development scenarios, and the preparation of the Ayeyarwady Basin Master Plan. There will be also scope for tailored training courses and studies abroad through a twinning arrangement between the AIRBM and the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBC), as well as other mechanisms. It is envisioned that the staff of HIC will grow from 22 in 2020 to more than 50 in 2025.

Phase 2: 2020-2025

During this period, the development and operations of the HIC will still be supported for 50% by government funding meaning that HIC building was constructed by World Bank loan at the time of AIRBM Project and HIC will use this facility without paying the rent; the rent is Government of Myanmar’s contribution. Other 50% will be cost recovery base business model, through the research, assessments and planning studies for “the market”, which includes assignments for development partners and the private sector, including joint-research projects with consulting firms.

On-the-job trainings remain the principle means of capacity development. However, training at a university or organization abroad remains important in order to develop and retain a core team of highly qualified staff that is needed to use, improve and sustain the DSS, and ensure the institutional sustainability of the HIC. During this period, HIC should become the knowledge base and “engine room” of government agencies (and other organizations) by using the DSS to produce valuable information from basic data to support the development of new policies, sector plans, feasibility studies and other activities in the Ayeyarwady River Basin.

Phase 3: 2025-2030

During this period the HIC will be fully funded through assignments for government agencies, development partners and the private sector for research, assessments and planning studies using the DSS and other tools. In this phase, the HIC may broaden its water-related research and advisory services beyond the initial hydrological modelling and related assessments to broader water-related research and advisory services, depending on demand of government and non-government clients. For example, the HIC could provide complementary activities to those of the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology (DMH). The HIC could grow further in accordance with demands from the government.

There are several international examples of HIC type of organizations. One example is the Institute for Water Modelling in Bangladesh, which was established in the 1980s and is now involved in most water related studies and plan development in Bangladesh and has about 100 staff. The expertise provided goes beyond the initial hydrological and hydraulic modelling to broader water-related research and advisory services. This and other international examples suggest that funding guarantees from Government and/or Development Partners remain important, especially during the initial 10-20 years before becoming an established and respected organization.

Intellectual Structure of HIC
Development of Decision Support System (DSS) and Basin Master Plan (BMP)

The development of Ayeyarwady Decision Support System (DSS) and Basin Master Plan (BMP) is one of the 7 tasks of Component (1), AIRBM Project. This process is being undertaken by the Hydro-Informatics Centre with the technical support of international consultant firm namely Danish Hydraulic Institute Joint Venture (DHI JV) since March 2018 and it will be completed in September 2020. The Ayeyarwady Decision Support System (DSS) will be developed to help assess the combined impact of existing and proposed dams, irrigation schemes, predicted climate change etc. in development scenarios and provide overview of the economic, social, and environmental consequences of these.

A range of water development scenarios will be formulated based on inputs (e.g. proposed projects in sector plans) from a range of stakeholders representing the various sectors like agriculture, energy, transport and urban water supply. The scenarios will be assessed using various models and expert knowledge to examine how the Ayeyarwady Basin can be sustainably developed to maximize benefits, minimize risks, and provide water-related security (against floods and droughts) in an equitable manner.

Using the DSS results on scenario analyses and feed-back (e.g. priorities) from stakeholders, an Ayeyarwady Basin Master Plan will be formulated. It will summarize the current water-related trends and development plans and describe the future water related needs and opportunities, as well as the associated risks and uncertainties. This will be followed by a basin development strategy, which balances a range of desired sustainable development outcomes for the mid- and long term. The Basin Master Plan concludes with a phased priority investment program that is in line with the basin development strategy and that takes into account a realistic potential investment budget from national Government and international donors. It is crucial that the priority investment program for the basin gains support from the stakeholders across the different sectors, providing a solid basis for Government agencies to address the priority investments in their successive socio-economic and sector plans.

Capacity building and transfer of technology to the Hydro-Informatics Centre (HIC) is therefore essential to ensure that the HIC can effectively use and manage the databases, models, impact assessment tools, and knowledge dissemination embedded in the DSS, also after project completion.

Decision Support System
Concept of DSS
Why DSS?
  • Natural systems are complex and so the consideration is needed on:
    • Multiple spatial and temporal scales;
    • Multi-disciplinary (water quantity / quality, land-water-eco systems);
    • Multiple resources (surface water / groundwater).
  • River basin developments are multi-faceted, cross-sectoral and possibly conflicting;
  • Decisions need to consider economy, social and environmental aspects;
  • Motivates participations and collaboration;
  • Facilitates information sharing and promotes participation.
DSS in Integrated River Basin Planning
  • Investigate investments/projects and formulate planning opportunities;
  • Take into account likely futures of climate change, population growth, economic development, technological innovations etc.;
  • Consider political priorities, visions for the basin etc.
  • Prioritize and select the best development path for investments considering potential trade-offs;
Main Components of DSS

The main components of the DSS will be:

  1. An information system holding spatial (e.g. thematic maps) and temporal data (e.g. daily river flows) on basin, sub-basin and local scales.
  2. River basin modelling tools to describe the natural hydrological processes, under current conditions as well as in a changing climate, and provide a basis for assessing the impact of land use change (e.g. deforestation), flow regulating structures (e.g. dams), large water abstractions (e.g. irrigation projects), soil erosion, etc.
  3. Analysis and reporting tools to support impact assessment through a range of economic, social, and environmental indicators, based on data and results of the modelled scenarios.
  4. A web interface making the data and information available to stakeholders, providing opportunities to comment and participate in the planning process.
Users of DSS
Main Users using Desktop Version of DSS
Main Users from HIC Responsibility
Data Expert Responsible for the data to be included in the DSS. Typical tasks include collecting, formatting and importing data into the DSS
GIS Expert Responsible for GIS data in the DSS including preparing GIS data to be used by the mathematical models, processing of GIS data and producing maps
Modeller Responsible for the mathematical models to be used within the DSS as well as creating of new Scenarios. The modeller is also responsible for the quality assurance of data and for ensuring the data fits the models purpose.
System Analyst Inclusion and/or link to socio-economics, environmental and sector databases, for scripting and calculation of new indicators and for including these in new scenario evaluations. System Analyst is also responsible for selecting which model results and which indicators shall be published via the Web user interface and to whom they are available based on the Evaluation Manager criteria.
Evaluation Manager Non-IT person responsible for the selection of evaluation criteria (indicators) weights, scenarios, QA results
Admin Full rights to the DSS including creating new users
External Users using Web Version of DSS
External Users Use Form of DSS
Public A public user that will have access to limited data and information, e.g., only approved scenarios
HIC Remote User A HIC staff user that will have read access to all data and information
Decision Maker A decision maker, e.g., from a ministry and other authorities as well as other stakeholders that has access to all published data, information and indicators. All public data and information will also be available. The decision maker can also suggest alternative DSS scenarios to be created for further assessment.
Roles of DSS Users
Proposed DSS Framework
Interaction between DSS and BMP
The Ayeyarwady Basin Planning Process

National Water Resources Committee (NWRC) has initiated an ambitious, strategic planning project for the Ayeyarwady River Basin in Myanmar. The Decision Support System and Basin Master Plan (DSS/BMP) project aims to deliver a stakeholder-agreed basin development strategy.

As part of the basin master planning process, a limited number of different water development scenarios are being formulated based on inputs from stakeholders representing agriculture, energy, transport, urban water supply, environment and other sectors.

The data and maps of the existing situation – as documented in the SOBA reports – will form the baseline conditions against which scenarios will be assessed in the DSS. The to-be-developed scenarios – based on sectoral development plans, stakeholder feedback, extrapolation of existing trends and climate change – will present a ‘planned development’ and several coherent and integrated alternative future (2040) scenarios. These scenarios will undergo a Triple Bottom Line assessment using social, economic and environmental indicators. One of the scenarios – possibly with some modifications – will then be selected by the stakeholders as a ‘River Basin Master Plan’ to guide the relevant institutions in the development of sector and project plans (e.g. agriculture, hydropower, urban water supply and navigation). The related multi-sectoral investment plan will assist in directing limited national and international financial resources and implementation capacity to the most urgent and most beneficial investments.

An overruling ‘key to success’ is ownership and buy-in from the implementing agencies, supported by active participation in the planning process.

Concept of Basin Master Plan
Phases of the Ayeyarwady Basin Master Plan Development
Proposed Stakeholder Involvement in River Basin Planning Process
Hydro Informatics Centre (HIC)