The Delta Academy was not to be missed in Yangon, Myanmar, last week as a long line of orange umbrellas could be seen marching the city waterfront, Yangon port and even the rural towns across the river.

It all started on 10 May as forty selected students and young professionals from nine universities and institutes across Myanmar came together for a three-day intensive program to learn about sustainable river delta development.

The Delta Academy is part of the Myanmar-Netherlands Water Challenge 2016, a special programme set up for students and young professionals in Myanmar that are encouraged to develop ideas and solutions for the Ayeyarwady river delta, supported by professional experts from the Dutch partners.

Learning about challenges and opportunities
Through a rich program of case studies, field trips, guest lectures and team assignments they were taken on a journey through the river delta, analysing the typical challenges and opportunities of the river delta, understanding the underlying drivers, weighing the interests of stakeholders and developing their own ideas and solutions.

Participants worked in four teams, representing key stakeholders in the river delta: Smart port, Smart river, Smart city and Smart village.

dws-hwc-myanmar-1-students-350pxFinding common ground
Each team had to analyse its own particular challenges and come up with possible solutions. In doing so, negotiating with the other teams and finding common ground was critical to achieve integrated solutions that balanced the interests of all stakeholders.

Throughout the program, the teams were supported by eight Dutch senior experts and many local experts, such as Dr. Toe Aung, Director urban planning of the Yangon city development committee.

Intense experience
Reflecting on the program, Johan Kabout and Tanya Huizer from Arcadis say: “It was a joy to participate in the program! Helping forty students in formulating an integrated approach to Delta development and seeing the result after just three days was an intense and fulfilling experience for us.”

Grand final
The Delta Academy program was closed with a grand final on 12 May where the teams presented their ideas and solutions on the big stage to senior representatives from ministries, NGO's, universities, World Bank, World Health Organisation, local private companies and Myanmar Port Authority.

As each team took the stage to pitch their ideas, they were interrogated and judged by a panel of distinguished experts, consisting of Mrs. Carola Baller, Deputy ambassador of the Netherlands embassy (chair of the panel), Dr. Zaw Lwin Tun, Director irrigation department, Dr. Myo Nyein Aye, Deputy general manager Myanmar port authority, U Khin Latt, Senior engineer NEPS and U Bobby MG, CEO Network activities group (NAG).

Ultimately, they announced the Smart River team as the winning team.

Lead partners of the challenge from the Netherlands are Arcadis, Van Oord, Royal HaskoningDHV and Deltares. The Netherlands Embassy in Yangon acts as strategic partner of the program.


About Holland Water Challenge
Launched in 2010, the Holland Water Challenge is a program that invites the next generation of international water leaders to take an active role in developing innovative and sustainable solutions to real-life delta and water problems.

In a unique way, young talent is connected with experts from private sector, academia and government and inspires them to discover their personal passion for water.

This news item was originally published on the website of Holland Water Challenge.

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More information
Holland Water Challenge