Fin­land's de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion in Myan­mar

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS -

After over 50 years of mil­i­tary rule, Myan­mar (pre­vi­ously known as Burma) strives for democ­racy, po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity and im­proved liv­ing con­di­tions. Fin­land sup­ports Myan­mar’s peace process, in­clud­ing tran­si­tion to the rule of law and democ­racy, women’s and girls’ rights, sus­tain­able for­est man­age­ment, and im­prove­ment of the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

Of the 51.5 mil­lion peo­ple liv­ing in Myan­mar, roughly half are un­der 27 years of age. Myan­mar of­fi­cially rec­og­nizes 135 dif­fer­ent eth­nic groups. The coun­try be­longs to the least de­vel­oped coun­try cat­e­gory and is at a frag­ile stage in its de­vel­op­ment. The peace process is slowly ad­vanc­ing and the hu­man rights sit­u­a­tion is sub­ject to close mon­i­tor­ing. Over a third of the pop­u­la­tion live in poverty and over 70 per­cent of the poor live in ru­ral ar­eas.

Fin­land has planned to sup­port Myan­mar by a to­tal of EUR 34 mil­lion in 2016–2019. In ad­di­tion, sup­port will be chan­nelled via Fin­nish civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions (CSOs) and higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions (HEIs).

Com­mer­cial co­op­er­a­tion

Myan­mar is one of the fastest grow­ing economies glob­ally to­day. Nat­u­ral re­sources, the lo­ca­tion of the coun­try be­tween China and In­dia, and good avail­abil­ity of labour play a sig­nif­i­cant role in the eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of the coun­try. The Govern­ment is try­ing to im­prove the busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment and the coun­try con­tin­ues to open up to for­eign investment and com­pa­nies.

Com­mer­cial co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Fin­land and Myan­mar is still mod­est, but op­por­tu­ni­ties for de­vel­op­ing the eco­nomic re­la­tions look promis­ing.

Team Fin­land col­lab­o­ra­tion in Myan­mar is ef­fec­tive. Busi­ness Fin­land's of­fice in Myan­mar has in a key role in pro­mot­ing the trade be­tween the two coun­tries. Myan­mar also seeks to utilise pri­vate sec­tor fund­ing in­stru­ments of­fered by Fin­land.

In­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy, forestry, wa­ter man­age­ment, min­ing, en­ergy and ed­u­ca­tion are ex­am­ples of ar­eas which could ben­e­fit from the knowhow of Fin­nish busi­nesses. Fin­nish de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion in Myan­mar cre­ates new part­ner­ships and op­por­tu­ni­ties also for com­mer­cial co­op­er­a­tion.

Civil so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions

Myan­mar is a rel­a­tively new part­ner coun­try for Fin­nish CSOs. Fin­land sup­ports Myan­mar by ap­prox­i­mately EUR 1.5–2 mil­lion an­nu­ally via the about 10 Fin­nish CSOs op­er­at­ing in the coun­try. They sup­port for in­stance democ­racy de­vel­op­ment, im­prove­ment of the sit­u­a­tion of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, women's eco­nomic em­pow­er­ment and de­vel­op­ment of ed­u­ca­tion. The CSOs’ ac­tiv­i­ties also sup­port the achieve­ment of the re­sults of Fin­land's Coun­try Strat­egy.

Re­sults:

Fin­land started de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion with Myan­mar in 2012. Ini­tially, Fin­land fo­cused on the peace process, which is still re­garded to be the ba­sis for all de­vel­op­ment.

Women's and girls' ac­cess to sex­ual and re­pro­duc­tive health ser­vices as well as to ser­vices for vic­tims of gen­der-based vi­o­lence

Fin­land started de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion with Myan­mar in 2012. Ini­tially, Fin­land fo­cused on the peace process, which is still re­garded to be the ba­sis for all de­vel­op­ment.

has im­proved in con­flict ar­eas, such as Rakhine. Through a pro­gramme sup­ported by Fin­land, over 110,000 women and girls have gained ac­cess to these ser­vices.

Fin­land has sup­ported the in­clu­sion of dif­fer­ent eth­nic groups, civil so­ci­ety and women in the peace process and in the na­tional pol­icy di­a­logue.

Fin­land sup­ported the 2014 pop­u­la­tion cen­sus. In ad­di­tion to the data on age and gen­der, the cen­sus pro­duced data on for ex­am­ple ed­u­ca­tion, health, liv­ing con­di­tions, birth rate and mi­gra­tion. All in­for­ma­tion in the data is im­por­tant when de­vel­op­ment plans are made and re­sources are al­lo­cated.

Fin­land has sup­ported the dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion of maps il­lus­trat­ing Myan­mar's min­eral re­serves and helped in pro­vid­ing train­ing for the au­thor­i­ties. These mea­sures con­trib­ute to the de­vel­op­ment of the min­ing sec­tor and help to at­tract new in­vest­ments to the sec­tor.

With Fin­land's sup­port, de­vel­op­men­tal needs in en­vi­ron­men­tal gov­er­nance have been ex­am­ined and a foun­da­tion has been laid for bet­ter en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion.

Fin­land's sup­port has helped farm­ers to aban­don opium cul­ti­va­tion and trans­fer to cof­fee and com­mu­nity forestry. Now farm­ers can earn a liv­ing by law­ful means and strengthen en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment. Cof­fee cul­ti­vated in fields sup­ported by the project will be sold in Euro­pean mar­kets start­ing in spring 2019.

In to­tal, ap­prox­i­mately 25,000 chil­dren (12,000 girls and 13,000 boys) from 60 dif­fer­ent vil­lage com­mu­ni­ties in eth­nic mi­nor­ity ar­eas have re­ceived pre-pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion through Fin­land's sup­port.

Risk man­age­ment

Myan­mar is at a frag­ile stage in its de­vel­op­ment. Armed con­flicts oc­cur from time to time in the bor­der ar­eas, and hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions con­tinue to hap­pen. So­cial de­vel­op­ment and a last­ing peace re­quire strength­ened gov­er­nance and con­sol­i­da­tion of mu­tual trust be­tween the ci­ti­zens and dif­fer­ent groups of peo­ple. Cor­rup­tion re­mains a sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenge in Myan­mar. Myan­mar is vul­ner­a­ble to nat­u­ral dis­as­ters which, like armed con­flicts, can rapidly de­te­ri­o­rate the hu­man­i­tar­ian sit­u­a­tion.

Fin­land pays par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to risk man­age­ment and co­or­di­nates its co­op­er­a­tion closely with other donor coun­tries. A sig­nif­i­cant part of Fin­land's sup­port to the de­vel­op­ment of Myan­mar is chan­nelled through the UN and other mul­ti­lat­eral or­ga­ni­za­tions, which em­ploy a broad ar­ray of tools to mon­i­tor and man­age risks. Projects and pro­grammes are sub­ject to con­stant mon­i­tor­ing, also through reg­u­lar field trips and ex­ter­nal as­sess­ments and eval­u­a­tions.

Fin­land’s sup­port Good for­est gov­er­nance

Opium poppy cul­ti­va­tion to be re­placed by cul­ti­va­tion of cof­fee and com­mu­nity forestry. The project is im­ple­mented by the UN Of­fice on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Fin­land’s sup­port for the project in 2019–2022 amounts to EUR 4 mil­lion.

Sur­vey of Myan­mar’s for­est re­sources and de­vel­op­ment of in­for­ma­tion sys­tems by the Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion of the United Na­tions, FAO: EUR 8 mil­lion in 2017– 2021.

Sur­vey of for­est re­sources in co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the Nat­u­ral Re­sources In­sti­tute of Fin­land (LUKE) and Myan­mar’s Min­istry of En­vi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion and Forestry and Yezin Agri­cul­tural Univer­sity: EUR 1 mil­lion in 2017–2020.

Peace, democ­racy and rule of law

Fin­land sup­ports Myan­mar's frag­ile peace process through four com­ple­men­tary projects:

Sup­port­ing the peace process in Myan­mar. Sup­port has been pro­vided since 2012 through the Fin­nish Evan­gel­i­cal Lutheran Mis­sion (FELM) and the Euro-Burma Of­fice (EBO). In the fourth phase of the project in 2019– 2021, Fin­land’s sup­port will be EUR 4 mil­lion.

A project that strength­ens Myan­mar's peace process. In Jan­uary 2019, a Cri­sis Man­age­ment Ini­tia­tive project was launched to sup­port the op­er­a­tion of the cease­fire mon­i­tor­ing mech­a­nism in Myan­mar and to pro­mote con­fi­dence and com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween the par­ties to the con­flict. Fin­land’s sup­port for the project in 2019–2021 amounts to EUR 1.75 mil­lion.

The multi-donor Joint Peace Fund is also used to sup­port the peace process. In 2019–2021, Fin­land’s sup­port was EUR 5.2 mil­lion.

Sup­port for democ­racy de­vel­op­ment and con­sti­tu­tion build­ing through the In­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute for Democ­racy and Elec­toral As­sis­tance (In­ter­na­tional IDEA). Fin­land's sup­port in 2019–2021 to­tals EUR 1.2 mil­lion.

Im­prove­ment of women's and girls' po­si­tion and ac­cess to sex­ual and re­pro­duc­tive health ser­vices as well as to ser­vices for vic­tims of gen­der­based vi­o­lence in con­flict ar­eas. The sup­port is chan­nelled through UNFPA: EUR 3.65 mil­lion in 2016–2019.

Qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion

De­vel­op­ment of teacher ed­u­ca­tion in co­op­er­a­tion with UNESCO: EUR 3.25 mil­lion in 2017–2019.

Tar­geted sup­port for the most vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren, im­prov­ing teach­ing con­di­tions and sup­port to strength­en­ing the pro­fes­sional skills of teach­ers. Fin­land's sup­port is chan­nelled through the World Bank: EUR 7.12 mil­lion in 2017–2020.

Other co­op­er­a­tion

Ap­prox­i­mately EUR 1.5–2 mil­lion a year is chan­nelled to Myan­mar via Fin­nish CSOs. These or­gan­i­sa­tions work to­gether with lo­cal part­ners, im­ple­ment­ing both de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion and hu­man­i­tar­ian projects.

The HEI-ICI pro­gramme (Higher Ed­u­ca­tion In­sti­tu­tions In­sti­tu­tional Co­op­er­a­tion In­stru­ment) is used as a chan­nel of sup­port to col­lab­o­ra­tive projects be­tween higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tutes in Fin­land and Myan­mar.

In ad­di­tion, Fin­nish sup­port is chan­nelled also via in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions and in­ter­na­tional fi­nance in­sti­tu­tions, such as the World Bank and the Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank, to which Fin­land do­nates funds.

Fin­land has granted hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance to Myan­mar or for refugees who have fled Myan­mar to Bangladesh al­most ev­ery year.

Fin­land has pro­vided a to­tal of EUR 2.5 mil­lion in debt re­lief to Myan­mar.

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