To alleviate poverty, ensure communities drive development projects

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  • Myanmar was recognized as the fastest growing regional economy by the Asian Development Bank in 2016. At the time, many rural areas in the country lacked basic infrastructure, such as paved, all-weather roads, access to electricity, and flood prevention measures.
    A democratic, people-centric leadership has helped bring about many opportunities for the improvement of the socio-economic conditions of the people.
    The Myanmar National Community-Driven Project, which is one of the projects implemented for the people, has benefited over 7.1 million people in over 12,000 project villages, and it has been made better year after year.
    It has been found that bank-supported community-driven development projects have been successful in reducing poverty in our country in six years.
    In fact, each development project has to directly interact with the rural people, who make up over 70 per cent of the country’s population, and it is mutual trust and transparency between the civil servants and the rural people that are needed to meet the goals of the projects.
    While developing physical infrastructure such as roads and bridges, access to electricity and safe drinking water, the projects should also focus on mental security and development of the rural people.
    At the same time, efforts for the development of vocational businesses, which can increase income and reduce poverty, should be accelerated.
    The Rural Area Development Department under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation has achieved success in improving the socio-economic conditions of rural people in the 2018-2019 fiscal year, with 4,281 water supply projects and the construction of over 260 miles of agro product transportation roads, over 234 bridges, and 527 houses. Also, about 2,530 villages have gained access to electricity. Besides, the department has built about 800 units under the Emerald Green Village Project, undertaken village development projects in some 2,746 villages, and organized 1,154 vocational training sessions.
    Despite these achievements, we should keep in mind that we are not out of the woods yet. There are still poor rural communities which can benefit from improved communication and access to local and government services.
    To alleviate poverty in Myanmar, the approach needs to change from state-controlled development to community-driven development. We should encourage communities from poor areas to handle funds and spend them efficiently and effectively. Only once they have the proper infrastructure can they boost production and live without worrying about their basic needs.
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