Community Infrastructure Improves Lives

Oct 23, 2014

Villlages help construct a road in Hopong

Over two hundred thousand persons living in Rakhine, Kachin, Shan, Kayah, Kayin and Chin are benefitting from access to new roads, bridges, health centres and other community infrastructure this year.

These new infrastructure units were constructed as part of the livelihoods and social cohesion initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and implemented together with the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED), the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and the Professional Research Consultancy (PRC). Through this partnership, UNDP has constructed nearly 431 livelihood and community infrastructure units reaching upto 212,750 men, women and children in Rakhine, Kachin, Shan, Kayah, Kayin and Chin. Construction activities have also provided quick income-generation opportunities for 50,111 men and women through cash-for-work. Village committees are responsible for identifying infrastructure needs, managing funds, planning cash-for-work activities and monitoring implementation. Village members have also been trained in simple repair and maintenance which will help them to upkeep their new facilities.

These facilities are helping conflict-affected and poor villages to access agriculture lands, farms, markets, schools, hospitals and government offices more easily. For example, the construction of a single access road in Northern Kachin gives 220 households in Tat Kone and Lawan Kahtaung villages year-round access to schools and workplaces, where previously the road was unusable during Myanmar’s 5-month long rainy season.

Speaking at the inauguration of a new access road in Kachin, Hon U Kyaw Shwe, Member of the Kachin State Parliament said that improvements to small infrastructure such as those supported by UNDP were very much in line with the government’s own priorities for rural development.

Speaking about the work, ACTED Country Representative Samuel Monet said, “The project has been very successful, not only have beneficiaries earned quick income but they have gained access to new sustainable infrastructures and very importantly, the committees expressed that they are now feeling more confident and have better relationships with local authorities.”

This work is helping strengthen relations among ethnically-diverse and often isolated communities. For example, in Kayah state, people from Demoso and Hrpuso townships participated in inter-village exchange visits to share experiences about community infrastructure. “We learnt that the Demoso villagers planned their cash-for-work schedules more systematically than we did. We need to do that better next time,” said U Jeronimo, of Htitaw Tini Khu village in Hpruso Township during one such visit.

For example, an access road jointly planned and built by Rakhine and Muslim communities of Cheik Taung and San HTo Tan villages in Minbiya Township have helped the two communities to rebuild ties in the aftermath of the 2012 violence. “We are not afraid to come to the main road now,” says a San Hto Tan resident, referring to the access road that now connects the two villages.

This work is part of a UNDP programme that covers 313 villages in 24 townships in 7 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 is made possible with funds from Japan, DANIDA and UNDP.

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