After decades in isolation, Myanmar is back on the global scene in a big way — but democratic reforms are still nascent and uncertain, and aid donors and investors are working to navigate the difficult landscape left behind by military rule and political repression.
Unlike many international organizations that suspended operations in Myanmar after the generals took over in 1962, only to return or initiate programs in recent years, the U.N. Development Program has operated continuously in the country for decades.
We spoke with Toily Kurbanov, UNDP country director in Myanmar, to learn what the reform effort — and the efforts to support it — have been able to accomplish in the three years since the government relinquished full control over the economy and loosened some social and political restrictions.
As the U.N. agency is supporting in Myanmar a “triple transition” of nation-building, state-building, and economic liberalization, Kurbanov discussed where that transition currently stands, and why the international community should be patient.
The country director also shared his views on how UNDP is working to provide Myanmar’s ministers with feedback from their constituents to open up lines of communication between the government and its citizens, something particularly challenging to government officials that have never experienced this, and locate change agents who can forward the reform agenda.
To see the full version of our interview with Kurbanov, click here.
Michael Igoe is a global development reporter for Devex. Based in Washington, D.C., he covers U.S. foreign aid and emerging trends in international development and humanitarian policy. Michael draws on his experience as both a journalist and international development practitioner in Central Asia to develop stories from an insider's perspective.