Creating space to restore relationship

Jul 3, 2013

Rakhine – Many more villages in Rakhine State were affected when inter-community conflict broke out again in October last year. It left only very few villages undisturbed. Sin Tat Maw and Baw Da Li villages from Pauk Taw Township are located in a quite distance from the town and still they were not spared from the conflict. Though there was no direct clash between Rakhine and Muslim communities from these two villages hardly any engagements between them were seen till recently.

U Ba Tun from Baw Da Li Village and U Karlu from Sin Tat Maw Village remember how their fellow villagers used to share community infrastructure, and help each other for common interests in the past. “We used to live in harmony,” U Ba Tun said. U Karlu echoed him and said “there was no reason to be afraid of each other”.

In an attempt to provide immediate income and to help restore peaceful interaction between two communities UNDP supported to renovate an embankment that links the two villages. A focus group discussion was facilitated to identify work priorities which will benefit both communities. After that a joint committee was set up to lead the embankment construction. The committee comprises nominated representatives from both communities.

Both U Ba Tun and U Karlu agreed that the committee had to work together to complete the renovation work as scheduled. Extra care was given for both communities to enable to contribute their labour and benefit equitably through implementing this activity.

According to U Thin Khaing, UNDP Programme Manager, renovating the embankment is just a catalyst to create space where members from both communities will communicate and interact with each other.

“More spaces and opportunities are needed to reinstate peace between communities in many areas of Rakhine. UNDP plans to introduce various opportunities not only to provide immediate incomes for poor households but also to support human development through peace, dialogue and social cohesion” U Thin Khaing said.

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