Shan State officials attend workshop for improved municipal services

Workshop TAF2 copy
Municipal officials of the Shan State government attend a two-day workshop in Taunggyi on 8 and 9 May to discuss and share best practices for delivery of services such as garbage collection, roads and bridges, street lighting, sewers and drainage to the citizens of their cities. Photo: Courtesy The Asia Foundation

As the last embers of the Htein Bin rubbish dump fire in Hlinethaya Township, Yangon Region were being extinguished, Shan State’s Development Affairs Organisations (DAOs) agreed that improving waste management is a priority and shared examples of good practices within the state.
The Asia Foundation, a nonprofit international development organisation committed to improving lives across Asia, and the Renaissance Institute, a policy institute in Myanmar that focuses on assisting the economic reform of Myanmar, have been working with DAOs to improve urban service delivery, raise municipal revenues, and improve communication between government and the public.
A workshop on 8 and 9 May organised by The Asia Foundation and the Renaissance Institute brought together 150 municipal officers and Chief Engineers, from all 77 municipalities of Shan State to learn from each other and from international experience. The DAOs of Kalaw, Muse and Hsipaw made presentations on the challenges they face in waste management and the reforms they have taken to improve landfill management and reduce illegal garbage dumping.
DAOs are the equivalent of municipal authority outside of Yangon and Mandalay. They raise their own revenues through taxes, fees and licenses and deliver services (mainly garbage collection, roads and bridges, street lighting, sewers and drainage) to the citizens of their cities.
Tun Thet Aung, The Asia Foundation’s mapping analyst and garbage reform lead, presented the fundamentals of landfill management. This covered decisions on site selection and the critical need for effective landfill design, reducing organic content being collected, and covering the waste collected with soil on a daily basis to reduce methane gas emissions. All of these steps can reduce the risk of fire and address other environmental concerns, which State Director U Sai Tun Tun raised as a key challenge for municipal authorities in Shan State.
A consistent message from workshop participants was that in addition to improving their own waste collection services, municipalities needed to work better with residents to reduce illegal dumping and improve the cleanliness of cities. Better communication with residents on the consequences of illegal dumping was suggested as one way to combat bad habits and trigger new practices of recycling and proper disposal of waste. In a workshop exercise, participants explored different ways of communicating, and defined housewives (who are generally responsible for disposing of garbage) and children as the most appropriate target groups when building an outreach campaign. Ideas for campaign communication activities included education workshops in schools and community events.
A key objective of the workshop was to “exchange and learn from each other”, a point emphasized by Shan Development Affairs Minister U Sai Son Hsai. Group discussions and scenario exercises on topics such as municipal revenues, mapping garbage routes and property tax created space for the participants to exchange experiences on areas for reform and improvement.
The workshop was funded through the support of the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC).

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