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Myanmar

MANDALAY – Environmental activists in the Hpakant and Lonekin jade mining regions of Kachin State have urged the government to impose strict controls on the dumping of waste soil by mine operators, as the practice exacerbates seasonal flooding.

Read more: Soil Dumping Worsens Impact of Flooding in Mining Areas, Activists Say

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Photo by Angel Ko Ko

This year’s theme for World Environment Day is plastic pollution, a scourge on Myanmar that is more easily seen in its beaches, mountains, and cities than its dearth of reliable statistics.

But over the past year string of hopeful environmental initiatives are pushing back against unnecessary waste. One example is Yangon’s “Straws Suck,” an increasingly popular campaign to drop non-reusable plastic straws in bars and restaurants.

Introduced by Nikki Barltrop, chief operating officer of 57Below Catering, the campaign has attracted some of the city’s biggest establishments; even KFC is now offering straws only on request. Meanwhile, some four-month-old bamboo straw firm Palü is offering a reusable and biodegradable alternative to diners.

Palü joined several other groups in a talk on tackling plastic pollution, hosted by sustainable consultancy and change agencyConyatCreate at Urban Village on June 4.

“There have always been environmental initiatives in Myanmar, it has just sped up over the last six months,” Anastacia Howe, founder ofConyatCreate, told MYANMORE. “We realize there are a lot of great things happening. We see our role as helping all these players shape the conversation, but tying in the way.”

The “why” ranges from toxins in microplastics ingested by marine life and ascending the food chain, to the recent landfill fire in Hlaing Thar Yar township that hospitalized 26 people—a noxious two-week blaze that some say could have been avoided if the waste was properly separated and treated.

Why people should alleviate the damage we deal to the environment is a vast and immediate concern. After all, the innocuous plastic bag can take up to a millennium to decompose, almost twice the lifespan of the Roman Empire. In its wake is a disastrous environmental legacy.

According to a 2012 World Bank report, solid waste generated in Myanmar was 5,616 tons per day—0.44 kilograms per person. By 2025 the report forecast that number to reach 0.85 kilograms, driven by an increase in consumption and urban population growth, and a lack of effective waste treatment.

Read more: Myanmar targets plastic waste in growing green movement

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Favorable weather conditions and improved yields have helped drive a return to growth in Myanmar’s agricultural sector, a trend likely to be supported by government efforts to embrace modern farming methods to ensure long-term sustainable development.

The agriculture sector in Myanmar grew by 3.5% in FY 2017/18, which ended on March 31, rebounding from a drought-induced contraction recorded in FY 2016/17

The agriculture sector grew by 3.5% in FY 2017/18, which ended on March 31, rebounding from a drought-induced contraction recorded in FY 2016/17, according to the Asian Development Outlook 2018 report, released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in early April.

Read more: Myanmar Agriculture Rebounds From A Drought-Induced Contraction

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