Living the dream in Myanmar

A five-year project to improve the position of 3 000 families in Myanmar’s Ayeyarwaddy district has been launched by Norway’s Strømme Foundation with support from the Kavli Trust.

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Although this south Asian nation has experienced political reforms since 2009 and opened up to the world, large parts of its population are extremely poor.

“Myanmar is in great need of development assistance,” says Rune Mørland, acting head of marketing and communication at the Strømme Foundation. “We’ve been invited to help by the national government.”

The foundation has been working in the country for the past 11 years, he reports. “We have a broad network of solid partners. But our funds have been limited and we’ve kept a low profile because of very difficult political conditions.

“Now that the political landscape has changed, and we want to get started with our work, it turns out that this strategy has put us in a unique position in the encounter with government.”

The new programme is called “Development and Rehabilitation of the Economy of the poor through Alternative Means” – or DREAM Myanmar for short. It aims to encourage a shift from dependence to self-help among poor families, primarily by encouraging them to establish active ownership and participation in order to generate collective sustainable development.

The programme will ensure that:

  • 3 000 families obtain increased access to education on health and nutrition as well as clean water and better sanitation.
  • 1 500 children get better access to primary and secondary schooling
  • 2 000 youngsters receive vocational training
  • Mothers with children below the age of five gain access to health education, nutritional knowledge, clean water and sanitary conditions.

 Five different programmes form the basis for the integrated approach, and help to ensure broad participation:

  • strengthen civil society through self-help groups and cooperatives
  • work to create positive attitudes to health and hygiene
  • Shonglap groups for girls aged 11-18, specially tailored to the country’s requirements
  • strengthening education with measures for children who have dropped out of the school system (pre-school, primary school and bridge school)
  • entrepreneurship, job creation, securing a livelihood, talent financing, saving and loan groups.

“The Dream Myanmar programme has been one of our dreams for many years,” observes Mørland. “It’s now being realised thanks to the Kavli Trust. This wouldn’t have been possible without the trust’s commitment and willingness.”