Worrying trends: Myanmar's Rakhine State sees coronavirus cases surge
While Myanmar seemed to initially escape the worse of the pandemic, a recent surge in cases would suggest that this sadly seems likely to change.
Christian Aid has worked in Myanmar for more than three decades in partnership with civil society in standing together for dignity, equality and justice. We work with civil society organisations and faith-based organisations in responding to critical humanitarian needs, help build resilient communities, reduce poverty, and support peace and justice. We focus on extreme poverty and the hardest to reach communities, addressing power imbalances and support collective voice of poor and marginalised for dignified life.
We work with local and international partners, donors and ACT Alliance members in achieving our goals to end poverty and injustice. Our approach is to strengthen civil society’s capacity to influence power holders, demand good governance and uphold respect for human rights. We address the connected problems of disempowered people and conflict-affected communities, promoting their participation in the ongoing political and peace processes in Myanmar.
We are a member of INGO Forum in Myanmar and work in collaboration with Department of Social Welfare (Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement) and other relevant ministries and departments.
The key workstreams of Christian Aid’s work in Myanmar are:
Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) and Conflict sensitivity approaches are intersecting all above 3 workstreams
Christian Aid Myanmar aims to work with the poorest and most vulnerable communities, particularly in the ethnic states of Chin, Kachin, Kayin, Mon, Rakhine and Shan, and the Ayeyarwady, Bago, Magway, Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw, Sagaing and Yangon regions. With our partners, we support work in more than 44 townships in these states and regions.
With the aim of saving and protecting lives, we ensure that the needs of most vulnerable communities and internally displaced people (IDPs) affected by conflict and natural disasters are met while adhering to key humanitarian standards and accountability that govern our work. We promote resilience and build community capacity to prepare for, and respond to, humanitarian crises. We support at-risk communities to use early warning systems and build their capacity to plan for and mitigate the impacts of natural disasters.
Our interventions focus on WASH, Shelter, Education, Livelihoods, Peacebuilding, Protection, GBV and community action planning. We empower target communities to anticipate and adapt to crisis and risks related to conflict, violence, and the climate, in an inclusive and equitable way by promoting localised and organised action to increase their resilience. We support community mobilisation, access to information, and the participation of internally displaced people (IDPs) and refugees in planning and decision-making around resettlement.
We empower and build resilience of most vulnerable women and men affected by violence and conflicts. We promote social cohesion through means of dialogue among the diverse communities, and bring changes in behaviours, attitudes, and relationships within and amongst these communities. We amplify community voices and peacebuilding actions along with civil society actors (including faith institutions) and disseminate the best practices to influence and engage with key stakeholders for inclusive peace and laws with conflict sensitive ways. We support peace innovation grants through local civil society groups, youth groups and /faith leaders/ institutions. We empower civil society with digital and media literacy skills to mitigate hate speech.
Our approach is to bridge the gap between marginalised voices, duty bearers and evidence based decision-making that builds local agency of communities and CSOs to advocate to duty bearers for improved access to and delivery of services, through strengthened access to data and accountability mechanisms. We advocate to ensure government systems, laws, policies and their implementation are gender responsive and socially inclusive, so that most vulnerable and marginalised groups have access to basic services that address their needs.
Through our programme, we raise awareness and understanding about harmful, discriminating, and exclusive social and cultural norms amongst public, governmental and non-governmental powerholders to contribute shifting norms and practices towards equality and inclusion for most vulnerable groups. We continue to build individual and collective capacities of marginalised people and groups enabling them to advocate for and claim their rights, so that they can fully participate in society and decision-making processes.
We focus on ensuring people most in need in remote and conflict affected areas to have equitable access to quality health and nutrition services and have improved health status: We build the capacity of communities to understand and voice their health needs, to be able to afford and access health services, and to collectively participate in health governance to demand services they are entitled to.
We strengthen government health systems and policies, enabling improved planning and equitable service delivery, as well as more inclusive approaches to meet the needs of marginalised communities.
Our approach is to use innovative technology such as social media to inform the available health services and improve demands.
We are fully committed to the understanding that how we deliver aid is primarily driven by the context in which we work, including the people, communities, partners and other organisations that we work with. Therefore, most processes, guidance and tools can be adapted by programme staff and our partners as appropriate, to facilitate high-quality programmes in different contexts.
With the support of Irish Aid funded Humanitarian Programme Plan (HPP), we have reached 17,565 people (9,874 in Rakhine; 5,778 female and girls and 7,691 people in Shan, 4,334 women and girls) particularly IDPs and conflict-affected communities in Rakhine and Shan States of Myanmar. This provides livelihood support, hygiene practices, waste management and protection services to the beneficiaries.
When COVID-19 was declared in March 2020, Christian Aid Myanmar began adapting its existing projects to respond to emerging needs due to the pandemic. This included modifications in the HPP programme, health and GESI and peacebuilding projects. This meant enhancement of WASH and livelihood activities of HPP. Emergency food assistance, cash support, stigma reducing sessions, COVID-19 awareness and psychosocial support comprised HPP’s adaptation plan activities that covered more than 30,000 people.
As the adaptation actions were taking place, HPP also continued its gender based violence (GBV), peacebuilding and community action plan for 2020 in Rakhine and Shan. Referral maps were developed and rolled out to 3 camps and 7 villages, helping20 GBV survivors needing support to access services. 17 communities were able to craft an action plan/develop a small project and have successfully implemented the action that will benefit a total of 13,114 people.
During August 2018 to January 2020, Christian Aid implemented “Cultures of Dialogue - Sagar Wine” project in Sittwe and Buthidaung Townships of Northern Rakhine State with its local implementing partners, Peace and Development Initiative – Kintha (PDI-Kintha) and Organization for Building Better Society (BBS). It aims to develop a sustainable ‘culture of dialogue’ bringing members from within a community around the issues they face,
build knowledge on how to prevent and mitigate conflict peacefully and to create a potential for dialogue between the communities living in the state. The project had reached total of 320 people including Rakhine, Rohingya, Daing Net and Kaman ethnics through personal leadership trainings, understanding conflict and dialogue facilitation trainings, dialogue exercises and action forums.
The project developed a training manual which allows participants to explore personal development, understand the dynamics of conflict and practice dialogue facilitation skills via three creative and interactive modules with visuals. This ‘Building a Culture of Dialogue’ manual is available in the Burmese language.
Christian Aid Myanmar have been implementing “Gender, Peace and Security” project in partnership with Kachin State Women Network (KSWN) since 2019. It focuses on building evidence in order to advance women’s voice in peace and security through research targeting the seven townships of Kachin State such as Putao, MoeNyin, Tanai, HpaKant and Laiza. Kachin State Women Network delivered the series of Gender Peace and Security trainings to over 200 participants and empower them the knowledge on gender peace and security along with the research methodology. The trained participants facilitated the surveys and interviewed community members, women groups and key stakeholders in the regions on women issues including GBV, human trafficking and domestic violence. Through the evidences collected from the communities, KSWN developed three advocacy papers focusing on gender peace and security issues and engaged with members of parliament, government departments and political parties based on research’s finding and recommendations.
ECID is a four-year programme funded by the UK Government, which aims to reduce poverty, realise rights and improve the well-being of the most marginalised including women and girls, ethnic minorities and people living with disabilities or HIV in Myanmar through the collaboration with 7 local partners.
Myanmar Physically Handicapped Associations (MPHA) advocates for the rights of people living with disabilities and fights social discrimination within Myanmar society, had completed project baseline in project locations and built good relationship with community leaders and village authorities. A range of activities including emergency cash grant for people with disability, data collection through digital Kobo and Covid-19 awareness sessions are now conducting by MPHA through following social distancing and the guidelines.
With the support of Kachinland Research Centre (KRC), ECID had carried outfield data collection for the research related to youths living in IDP and armed-conflict affected areas in Kachin State, Myanmar. From this, the programme identified the key issues that includes the lack of job opportunity for IDP youths, drugs addiction, discrimination by the host communities, access to health services and lack of life skills training.
Alliance Myanmar and three community-based organizations focus on delivering required services to reaching its target communities especially female sex workers, drug users, LGBTQs and people living with HIV/AIDS. During the third quarter of 2020, they had delivered 54 sessions of human rights awareness-raising and monitoring human-rights violation case in three targeted townships.
The Primary Health Care Project, funded by the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC), implementing by a consortium of national and international partners in four townships in Kayin State, builds on the results since a first phase (2015-2018): Access to health care nearly doubled from 171,025 to 331,019 people. The uptake of skilled birth attendance grew to 71.5% and 83% of pregnant women received appropriate antenatal care, an increase of 10%. Contraceptive use rose from 1 to 17%. In four years, 86 auxiliary midwives were trained, over 200 village health volunteers received refresher training and 49 health care facilities were renovated or renewed equipment.
Our Socialize to Immunize project, funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, used an automated Chatbot to educate caregivers with different features on specific vaccine knowledge and increase vaccination demand for children under 2 years old in Kachin State, Myanmar. These include schedules, maternal and child health, completed vaccine recording and automated reminders for immunization days. During April 2019 to date, evidence found that people’s attitudes had towards vaccination had improved, with an increase of 20% of people reacting ‘not good’ when someone had not received vaccinations.