The Future in Their Hands

Jul 10, 2014

Building new road like this through cash-for-work scheme not only benefits communities and familes but also improves social cohesion

Kayah State - Villagers from Demoso and Hpruso townships are enjoying lunch together. This is not something they do every day. Today, they are on the first leg of an inter-village exchange visit, sharing experiences about community infrastructure.

The visit is facilitated by the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) infrastructure partner in Kayah state.  The construction of roads, bridges, culverts and community halls using community labour through cash-for-work schemes is meeting critical infrastructure needs and contributing to quick-impact income-generation in the target villages. Visits such as this one are helping to strengthen relationships and networks between these ethnically-diverse and otherwise isolated communities.

“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.” reflects U Jeronimo, of Htitaw Tini Khu village in Hpruso Township.

In Kayah state, where UNDP is supporting livelihoods and strengthening social cohesion across 40 villages in Demoso and Hpruso townships, there are many such reflections about how to do things better in the future. UNDP’s work in Kayah involves several partners including the NYEIN Foundation, Kayah Phu Baptist Association, Karuna Myanmar Social Services, Kayah Baptist Association, Kainayar Rural Social development Organization, Kay Hto Boe Social Development and IRC.

Village rice banks, a rice stock that allows poor families to borrow or buy rice were set-up by UNDP. They play an important social protection function for vulnerable households. People become food insecure in the lead-up to harvesting. In Oh Kay village, in Demoso Township and Law Gyar village in Hpruso Township, the village committees have already decided to keep the rice-bank mechanism going for the next two to three years. “We want to do it on our own next year” says U Thei Roh of Law Gyar.

Livelihood assistance in cash and kind, provided by UNDP, is helping people like U Kay Kaw Ley and U Ste Tyar No, of Hasang Du Kar village in Demoso Township, to buy livestock and to make a net profit of approximately USD 200 at the time of sale. They are helped by community extension workers, trained by UNDP in partnership with the livestock department, who help with vaccinations and share information about keeping the animals healthy and disease-free. Daw Tar Malar Hpaw, one of the few women livestock extension workers, says she has conducted information sessions for all livestock breeders in her village, and due to growing demand, she is voluntarily extending her services to other villages in the area. She’d like to be considered for more advanced training so she can improve herself and provide better services to her community next time, she says.

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.

The village-based committees, were set-up by UNDP to oversee project activities. Now these committee are leading consultations, planning and monitoring community development activities beyond UNDP’s support. For example in Hprusos’ Htee Taw Tani Khu village, villagers have elected the committee to install a water supply system using household contributions to meet water shortages in the village, a request that has not been met by authorities to-date. In Law Gyar, also in Hpruso Township, the households were spread-out across a large mountainous area, and didn’t have a habit of meeting. “We didn’t come together before” says U Thei Roh, a village committee member. “Now we are more like a family. We plan to train the young people about the rice-bank method, so they can take it forward next time”.

A next time future for the villagers of Demoso and Hpruso awaits.

Contact Information

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

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