Doing more with less water in Mandalay, Myanmar

July 2017

Mandalay is the second largest city of Myanmar, with a population of over 1.2 million residents.


Its water supply system, currently managed and operated by the Mandalay City Development Committee (MCDC), was built in the 1990s with financial assistance from ADB. The main pumping station is still operational but with limited coverage. Only a portion of the city core, or about half of the urban population, is served with an intermittent and untreated water supply. Meanwhile, water loss is on the high side at 52%. This means its signifi cant customer base is only able to utilize less than half of the supposed volume.


MCDC recognized the need to enhance its water services and, thus, took the initiative to participate in ADB’s WOPs program. MCDC was partnered with Vitens Evides International (VEI), a Dutch company that specializes in providing technical support to urban water companies in improving their operational and financial performance.


A series of training sessions, remote consultations, and field visits was conducted involving selected MCDC staff and VEI experts. For nearly 2 years (mid-2013 to 2015), the twinning arrangement focused on the following areas: (i) conduct of a pilot study on nonrevenue water (NRW) management (identification and reduction of water losses) in the existing distribution network; (ii) conduct of a hydraulic survey to improve efficiency of deep tube wells; (iii) water quality monitoring improvement; and (iv) operational improvement of a surface water treatment plant.


During the final workshop held in December 2015, accomplishments from the twinning program were highlighted. Tangible results from the partnership include:

  • Pilot NRW management. Activities conducted covered: (i) creation of a district metered area (DMA); (ii) installation of water and flow meters; (iii) conduct of zero pressure test; (iv) conduct of training and field visit on water meter management and operation and maintenance of distribution network; and (v) conduct of onsite training on leakage detection. These activities also led to the creation of a second DMA for further analysis

  • Hydraulic survey of deep tube wells. This consisted of: (i) the measurement of actual capacity of the deep tube wells; (ii) identification of borehole clogging as the main cause of poor performing deep tube wells; and (iii) creation of awareness among MCDC staff on the necessity of better design, operation, and maintenance of deep tube wells.

  • Water quality monitoring. Assessing water quality was previously done by testing for the presence of chemicals in the water samples. Through the program, MCDC laboratory staff were trained on sampling and testing for bacteriological presence (e.g., coliform and E-coli).

  • Surface water treatment plant. VEI mentors provided useful recommendations on the proper design of roughing and slow sand filters as well as trainings for MCDC staff on the operation and maintenance of said treatment facilities. This allowed the existing water treatment plant to increase its volume production by threefold.


The promising results of this partnership prompted a second WOP. This currently focuses on: (i) increasing MCDC’s water production capacity; (ii) enhancing the agency’s laboratory services; (iii) training on network design; and (iv) financial management and investment planning. The second phase is expected to conclude by the end of 2017.

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ADB’s vision is to transform the archetypical chaotic, polluted, inequitable cities of Asia and the Pacific into a competitive, equitable, environmentally sustainable, and climate resilient urban centers—in short, livable cities. This will require a new approach to city development, including how ADB supports that development.

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