Assessing dam-related flood risk in Myanmar and optimising operating procedures

Location: Myanmar            Client: Asian Development Bank              Partner: Landell Mills


Myanmar has been developing rapidly in recent years, with a programme of dam building to provide water for irrigation and hydropower. Exceptional floods have led to severe damage to spillways at several dams, along with flooding of large areas. There is a need to assess the safety of dams and to develop sustainable solutions for reducing the risk of dam break floods. There is an opportunity to optimise the operation of dams to achieve multiple benefits for flood hazard reduction and economic development via irrigated agriculture and electricity generation.


Working with Landell Mills and staff from the Irrigation and Water Utilization Management Department, we carried out three dam safety studies in Myanmar. In the absence of current procedures for rainfall frequency analysis and rainfall-runoff modelling, we developed new approaches and delivered training to staff from the department. The project was extended to include multi-criteria optimisation of dam operation, using the water, energy and food security nexus approach.


The most significant benefit is in capacity building. The dam safety studies set a template that can be applied more widely throughout Myanmar, using freely available modelling software. This will allow for better targeting of investment in upgrades of spillway capacity, and a reduction in the hazard posed by dams. The optimisation work is a demonstration of how development aims can be achieved by the more efficient use of existing assets: a low-cost and sustainable solution.

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Funding for this work is provided by the Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund. This fund supports cities by improving urban planning, designing climate resilient infrastructure and investing in projects and people. The Rockefeller Foundation and the governments of Switzerland and the United Kingdom support the fund.

Email Duncan Faulkner for more information about dam-related flood risk in Myanmar. Discover more of our projects on our International Development webpage 

Dam example in Myanmar
Example of dam and reservoir, Myanmar


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