Ethnic youths in Myanmar’s Naga Hills Engaged to Protect Forests

Jul 8, 2014

Starting in mid-July the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will organize a series of training workshops for youths in Myanmar to participate in a project implemented to support the government in preparing for the REDD+ programme in Myanmar

Khamti – Youths from the remote Naga hill region in upper Myanmar will play a key role in helping to protect their forests and environment.  Starting in mid-July the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will organize a series of training workshops for youths from three townships in Upper Sagaing Region being identified as volunteers to participate in a UNDP project.

The youth volunteers will help establish and facilitate community based groups in 45 villages across three townships - Layshi, Lahe and Khamti. These groups will become catalysts in implementing environmental conservation activities.   

The forestry sector plays a key role in the economy of Myanmar. However, the forest cover has declined from 61% to 48% of the country area from 1975 to date.  To effectively halt deforestation and protect the forests, in 2011 Myanmar became a member of UN-REDD, a global initiative to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+). The UNDP project is meant to support the government in preparing for the REDD+ programme in Myanmar. It also aims to improve the quality of life of ethnic minorities in the Naga hill region with youth participation.

The youth volunteers and community youth groups will be trained on mobilization and group management, climate change and REDD+, establishing nurseries, treatment and raising seedlings, and conservation of natural forests. In addition, they will learn rights of indigenous people, forest carbon measurement, forest resources mapping, monitoring and evaluation process, environment and social impact assessments, and managing benefit distribution system.

“In order to be able to participate in REDD+ programme there is a requirement stipulating that the capacity of youth groups and indigenous people be enhanced. Through this initiative community youth volunteers will be trained and as a first step they will help establish a network of local civil society organizations and community based organizations with the aim to linking them with national REDD+ network,” said Daw Khin Hnin Myint, UNDP Project Manager for REDD+. 

To help reduce corruption and poverty through REDD+ programme the youth volunteers and community youth groups will also be introduced with anti-corruption measures to reduce risk of corruption on REDD+ benefit distribution. 

The trained youth groups will then raise awareness of respective communities on forest conservation and management, climate change and their rights.  They will also work together with their respective communities to formulate village resources development plans for further work once funding for development is available.  

“Youths nowadays are active in social and development activities. We have our youth network and I believe this initiative will help us understand more on environmental conservation measures and how sustainable development works,” said Yan Kho Baw, a youth from a village 40 miles away from Layshi town.

As the project will also introduce youth groups to resource mobilization and link them with donor organizations. Yan Kho Baw believes they will also be able to gradually initiate local development activities on their own. 

With USD 300,000 funding from UNDP, the 2-year “Improvement of the Quality of Life of Ethnic Minorities in the Naga Area in Myanmar through Youth Participation in REDD+” project will be implemented until August 2015.

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