YANGON — A program has been launched at Inle Lake to address a waste disposal problem that threatens the environment and beauty of one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.
The program has been launched in Nyaung Shwe, the main town on the lake, where a huge increase in visitors in recent years has led to significant development but left services struggling to keep up with the influx.
The situation has highlighted a shortage of waste disposal facilities. Many residents dispose of waste at makeshift dumps at the lake’s edge.
The three-step program has been introduced by Norway-based non-government ogranisation Partnership for Change, through its local group Inle Speaks, in Nyaung Shwe’s largest quarter, Mine Li, which has about 450 households.
Step one involves Inle Speaks designing waste disposal bins and providing them to the community. The program will encourage a “no-burn zone” in the area as a second step, and step three will involve sorting the waste into wet and dry rubbish and plastic products.
“When trash lies everywhere around town, it not only hurts the environment and the people, it is also displeasing to the large amount of visitors that make this place thrive economically,” Inle Speaks program manager Oscar Haugejorden told Frontier. “Unless something is done, both the environment and economy will falter,” he said.
Although waste is not the only contributing factor, the water quality in Inle Lake has fallen dramatically in recent years with many residents no longer using it for drinking because it is not safe. A 2012 report by the Myanmar Fisheries Department found the lake had an average pH of 9.05.