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FEATURE STORY

Myanmar: 400 villages rolling out their own community projects

May 12, 2014

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Myanmar National Community Development Project is supporting communities by having them identify and implement investments they need most.
  • The project is currently supporting rural communities in 400 villages, including those in remote Shan State.
  • Over the next two years, the project will scale up to support over 3,000 villages in 15 townships across the country.

YANGON, Myanmar--- Ma Nan Oo is a primary school teacher in the Namshanto township of Shan State.  She stands in front of a wooden school house and talks about the fence that is being constructed a few meters away.

“I attended three meetings to discuss and select a project for my village. We chose to build a fence for the school,” she says, “We’re located next to a road where cars and motorbikes pass from time to time. Since we don’t have a school fence, it’s dangerous for the children when they play outside,”

“I am confident that the fence will be a success because I’ve participated in all the meetings for it,” she adds.

The Myanmar National Community Development Project progresses

The Myanmar National Community Development Project is empowering Ma Nan Oo and many others identify and implement investments they need most, such as roads, bridges, irrigation systems, schools, health clinics, and  rural markets.

Approved in November 2012 using an $80 million IDA grant, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries, this six-year project is supporting rural communities in 15 townships.

As of March 2014, the project is under implementation, with activities underway in the first three townships. Community consultations have been held, village committees and volunteers identified, village plans formulated and approved, and sub projects are being rolled out.

Open Quotes

This is the first time in my life where I’ve witnessed a project which is chosen by the communities--- not from the top authorities but from the bottom. I learned that the process is very democratic and all women and men can participate to express their views on what to choose to be implemented according to the need of the village. Close Quotes

U Sein Hlaing
Traditional healer from Payargyi village, Shan State

Reaching out to vulnerable groups and ethnic minorities

62-year-old U Sein Hlaing is a traditional healer from Payargyi village, also located in the Namshan Township of Shan State.

He says: “This is the first time in my life where I’ve witnessed a project which is chosen by the communities--- not from the top authorities but from the bottom,”

“For our village, we selected to upgrade the water supply system. Water is important for our village and everyone agreed for this.

“I learned that the process is very democratic and all women and men can participate to express their views on what to choose to be implemented according to the need of the village,” he says.

The project has a strong focus on women to ensure they have an equal voice in decision-making. It includes a range of measures to ensure the full participation of vulnerable groups and ethnic minorities, including: the recruitment of village volunteers elected from among ethnic groups; free, prior and informed consultations for village development plans; the involvement of ethnic minorities in community decision-making and monitoring and evaluation; and the use of local languages.

“The Myanmar National Community Development Project realizes President Thein Sein’s vision of people-centered development, a significant shift in the way that government interacts with communities in rural areas, and a beginning to reach poor and historically underserved areas,” says Myanmar Country Manager Kanthan Shankar.

The National Community Driven Development Project is the World Bank’s first project in Myanmar in 25 years. The World Bank considers community driven development initiative to be effective tools to combat rural poverty by delivering small scale infrastructure (such as school repairs, wells, and more) that respond to what communities need.