Learning Together: UNDP's Implementing Partners Come Together for Social Cohesion

Aug 18, 2014

a Loikaw partner presents a conflict tree

Myanmar - In a local hall in Loikaw, about 30 people are working excitedly in small groups. Crowding around sheets of flip-charts, they are in intense discussion. The groups have an hour to design a community cohesion project intervention. While they have worked on exercises like this before, this is the first time they are developing a project using the information, skills and tools they’ve newly acquired. Occasionally, laughter breaks through the otherwise serious atmosphere.

Similar exercises happened in Mawlamyine, Hpaan, Taunggyi, Mytikyna and Yangon in June and July this year, as part of a UNDP effort to increase capacities for social cohesion among its staff and implementing partners in Mon, Kayin, Kayah, Shan, Kachin, Chin and Rakhine. These three-day training workshops reached over 115 people, including from 35 of UNDP’s implementing partners.

Daw Nang Mo Mo Theda, Secretary of the Southern Shan State Branch of Mana Organization who participated in the training says she found it very helpful because she hadn’t thought about how social cohesion connected to topics like human rights, governance and gender. “The idea of social cohesion is important for Myanmar because it can help solve the ethnic conflicts in our country” she says.

The trainings covered concepts, skills and tools for social cohesion, and gave participants opportunities to test their knowledge in real time. For example, in one activity, participants were asked to analyze a dispute among neighboring villages using conflict analysis tools. In Hpaan, they identified the lack of water as a root cause of the conflict and shared ideas on what kind of intervention could help the situation. In another activity, participants designed a community dialogue process and used dialogue facilitation skills to mediate a conflict between the community, the local government representative and a development agency.

The aim of these trainings was to encourage UNDP’s partners to take forward social cohesion in their future work, above and beyond their ongoing partnerships with UNDP. Daw Wai Wai Aung from ACTED says, “I plan to use these tools for future programming, especially participatory planning and conflict resolution.”

This work is part of a UNDP programme that covers 300 villages in 24 townships in 07 states in the country. In partnership with over 35 non-governmental organizations, UNDP is supporting the livelihood and social cohesion needs of these communities by providing them with social protection assistance; grants for agriculture, livestock and micro-enterprises; vocational training; community mobilization and training; and infrastructure. The work aims to strengthen community cohesion by reducing socio-economic disparities and vulnerabilities and strengthening community networks and relations. The work is made possible with funds from Japan, DANIDA and UNDP.

Back in Loikaw, an hour later, the groups are ready to present their new projects. It’s been an opportunity to showcase their new knowledge and skills. It’s been a good day of learning, interacting and networking with other people.  Each team presents their ideas, answers questions and receives feedback from their peers. Occasionally, the laughter still breaks through.
(By: Anna Jane Saxby, International United Nations Volunteer, UNDP Myanmar &
Manuel Vazquez Cano, UNDP Graduate Intern)

Contact Information

Dilrukshi Fonseka (Ms.)
Social Cohesion and Governance Specialist
+95-1-542910 to 19

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