UNDP gears up to normalize ties with Myanmar

    The Uppatasanti pagoda in Naypyidaw, Myanmar. Photo by: DiverDave (via Wikimedia)

    A new field office of the United Nations Development Program may rise in Myanmar. The agency is proposing that it be built in the country’s capital city, Naypyidaw.

    The proposal is part of a broader plan to normalize relations between UNDP and Myanmar, which appears to be back in good graces with Western donors following commitments by the government to pursue political reforms, including the historic by-election in April.

    The plan was presented May 17 during a meeting between Ajay Chhibber, UNDP assistant administrator and director of the agency’s Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, and senior government officials, including Myanmar Vice President Sai Mauk Kham in Naypyidaw. It follows a call by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during his April 30 address before the Myanmarese parliament for UNDP to start a “normal country program” in Myanmar.

    According to its press release, UNDP, which runs an office in Yangon, is preparing a program that focuses on sustainable inclusive community development, climate change and disaster risk reduction, and democratic governance in Myanmar. The program, it says, will prioritize promoting livelihoods in cease-fire areas and capacity development.

    State-run newspaper New Light of Myanmar mentions that UNDP has proposed a three-year project valued at $144 million, which will begin 2013.

    When contacted by Devex, a spokesman for UNDP Myanmar says it’s still too early to provide specifics on future projects as the resumption of a normal country program will require approval of the agency’s executive board.

    Currently, UNDP is implementing five projects in Myanmar as part of its Human Development Initiative, targeting the areas of basic health, training and education, HIV and AIDS, the environment, and food security. The initiative has benefited some 5 million people in more than 8,000 Myanmarese villages. 

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    About the author

    • Eliza Villarino

      Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.

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