Since 2010 Myanmar has been undergoing a complex transformation from a military dictatorship to a democracy. In the wake of the country’s opening up, Helvetas began its involvement in Myanmar in 2012. One focus is on skills training of young women and men, particularly for many teenagers, who never finished school, and government-subsidized vocational training here is often overly theoretical. Working together with businesses, Helvetas enables young people to develop manual skills so they can earn a living or at least improve their income. In sewing and tailoring courses, for example, young women learn a new craft and, after several months of coursework, can look for work as seamstresses or set up shop on their own.
Helvetas promotes the sustainable use of natural resources, especially to protect declining fish populations, and the unique and endangered biodiversity along the coastline. Women and men in coastal communities get an alternative source of income in the processing of fish products and agriculture. Helvetas also contributes to the preservation of biodiversity by promoting the production and export of special indigenous plants, such as the Thanaka tree, whose wood and bark are traditionally used to make cosmetics.
Myanmar has an extremely varied and lively civil society, which must now find and defend its place in this new democracy. Thanks to a training program and small financial support, 1000 local organizations in villages actively participate in development processes at a national level. One of these partner organizations, for example, advocates for women’s “right to know” about spousal abuse and works to counter domestic violence by making public concrete experiences in civil society and discussing them with legislative committees.
Violence in Rakhine State, which began in August 2017, has driven hundreds of thousands of refugees across the border into Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. The speed and scale of the influx have resulted in a critical humanitarian emergency. Access to Rakhine is now prohibited for international NGOs. Helvetas provides humanitarian assistance to the refugees in Bangladesh.
Visit the website of Helvetas Bangladesh.
If you would like to know more about our work in Myanmar, click on each project for details.
12F Minkyaung Street
Kyaik Wine Pagoda Road
11062 Mayangone Township, Yangon
Phone: +95 (0) 997 914 0158