Remarks by Toily Kurbanov, UNDP Country Director at the Disaster Recovery Forum

Sep 7, 2015

Your Excellency Union Minister U Kyaw Lwin,
Your Excellency Deputy Union Minister U Paung Swe,
President of UMFCCI U Win Aung,
Presidential Advisor Dr. Zaw Oo,
Distinguished businessmen and businesswomen of Myanmar,
Representatives of the international community,

Alo Mingalaba!

I want to start by acknowledging strategic vision of U Win Aung and his inspiring team at UMFCCI, which led to convening this Disaster Recovery Forum to step up the role of the private sector. Thank you for inviting us to participate in your internal deliberations. Speaking after His Excellency Vice President U Nyan Tun and other distinguished government leaders, who have already addressed the priorities of government-led relief and recovery action, I might just dwell on two points: why are we here, and what can we do together.

Why are we here? While I work as country director of UNDP in Myanmar, today I also represent the Early Recovery Network – a group of humanitarian and development UN agencies and INGOs working to facilitate transition of flood response from relief to recovery. The reason why the Early Recovery Network felt will be important for us to be here is because we have great respect for leadership role played by the private sector of Myanmar in providing immediate relief assistance to floods-affected communities. We also believe it will be important that strong commitment by the businessmen and businesswomen of Myanmar is carried to the recovery action. Several speakers this morning already highlighted interventions by the business community to support the recovery; suffice to mention the widespread effort by Myanmar Rice Federation to improve availability and accessibility of rice supplies in most remote areas.

Economic recovery of Myanmar will depend on tri-partite partnership between government, private sector and people, whereas we in the international community can play a supportive role. In this context let me recall important work by UNICEF on renovating water ponds in Magway Region; provision of rice seeds for replanting by INGOs in Rakhine State; or livelihoods support provided by UNDP in Chin State.

Another reason why I am here is because between the private sector and the international development community we are not doing enough together: we are working often next to each other but rarely in partnership. And this is not right, because by working together you stand to benefit from our (UN’s) presence in the vulnerable communities, our role as impartial actor, and our access to global norms and practices; while we stand to benefit from private sector’s dynamism, efficiency, creativity and, most of all, from the sustainability. As we often see around the world, initiatives that bring commercial opportunities tend to be more sustainable and keep local economies running.

What can we do together? Let me now turn to several illustrations of what private sector and development partners can together, using experiences from other countries:

  • In Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan UNDP worked with CNH Industrial who provided machines for debris removal. In just few weeks whole streets and towns were cleared, enabling relief workers to reach affected communities;
  • In areas affected by Ebola Crisis, we work with Panasonic who donated solar-powered lanterns, which were provided to nurses allowing them to work 24/7;
  • In Haiti, UNDP and Digicel designed mobile money transfer mechanism, allowing thousands of families to purchase building materials for their homes

Let’s now move to non-UNDP examples, so that I don’t sound running a commercial of my organization, and also to examples that speak of partnerships that help not only to respond to disasters, but also build communities’ resilience. A powerful tool in this regard is local sourcing:

  • In Sierra Leone, Heineken in short time switched from using imported malt barley to locally grown sorghum. 3000 thousands now sell their produce to Heineken, which has set in motion a process of continuous upgrading skills;
  • In South Africa, the largest waste management company Tedcir owns no truck fleet. Instead they identify enterpreneurs from disadvantaged background, train them, loan capital for purchasing trucks and award service contracts;
  • And finally, in Japan and South East Asia, Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Group provides weather risk insurance to thousands of small hold farmers, which help them mitigate adverse impacts of climate change

While all these examples are interesting and inspiring, let us now invest in similar practices in Myanmar. Let us find Myanmar solutions on how private sector and UNDP and other international development partners can work together to help communities recover from floods and build their long-term resilience. And let us make sure that in the action plan that will be proposed by this Disaster Recovery Forum we will confirm the start of our new collaboration in the benefit of people of Myanmar.

Kye zu ti ba de

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