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From Conflict to Cooperation


Introduction: The programme in Kayin State

Kayin is an ethnic state located in eastern Myanmar on the border of Thailand. For more than half a century after independence the state was marred by armed conflicts between the army and various ethnic armed groups, primarily the Karen National Union, KNU. Villages across the state paid a particularly high price; apart from widespread violence, disappearances and displacements, people had few income opportunities and received next to no public services under former military regimes.

ActionAid Myanmar initiated the Capacity Advancement of Non State Actors in Development project in 31 villages in January 2011, to improve income opportunities and access to public services such as health, education and water supply as well as to provide capacity building for civil society organisations in Kayin State. In January 2012 the Active Citizenship for Accountable Governance project was added in order to further enable citizens to claim their rights and encourage accountable governance at all levels.

The entire programme was funded by the European Union and enacted in partnership with local organisation Knowledge and Dedication for Nationbuilding (KDN) and implementing partners Karen Anglican Development (KAD), Taunggalay Social Services (TGSS) and Kyar Inn Karen Baptist Association (KKBA).

ActionAid Myanmar’s overall theory of change is based on the belief that the causes of poverty can be challenged and that change can and will happen; that a human rights based approach to sustainable, community led development and strong youth and women leadership can be powerful drivers of change; and that all changes have to be led and facilitated by the people of Myanmar with support from the international community. It is a priority to reinforce the change processes through engagement with civil society, which will work in solidarity with the people; the media, which will amplify people’s voice in influencing the state; and the state, which will ensure justice and promote, protect and fulfil people’s rights.

All ActionAid’s programmes are guided by this theory of change and further employ a range of innovative, context specific methodologies. Fellows are at the heart of all ActionAid’s activities in Myanmar. They are young, energetic volunteers elected by their own communities and equipped with the necessary confidence, skills and knowledge to facilitate participatory development in their villages. Fellows employ various participatory rural appraisal tools in order to mobilise people to collect vital demographic data, analyse their situation and prioritise context-specific action plans. All this information is compiled in comprehensive Village Books, which are used in development processes by the community, ActionAid as well as the government. Follows also encourage their communities to form Village Community Based Organisations (VCBOs) in order to ensure good governance is institutionalised at village level.

Context: What do the villages in Kayin State want?

Livelihood: Creating alternative income opportunities

Education: Children should think, not just memorise

Health: Right from the birth

Water: Access improves health, education and livelihood

Organisational development: Cooperation at all levels

Governance: Amplifying the voice of the people