Building for the Future: Capacity Building for Development in Southern Chin State
The project takes place in Burma/Myanmar in the southern part of Chin State. Chin State is located in the western part of Burma bordering Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur states of India. The primary focus is on the areas inhabited by the Mara indigenous people group - including 53 villages within the 3 townships of Thantlang, Matupi and Paletwa - often referred to informally as ‘Maraland”.
30% of Burma’s population is made up of ethnic minorities. Ethnic nationality-populated, rural areas of Myanmar have long been affected by conflicts between the militarized state and dozens of non-state armed groups. Chin State is sparsely populated with a total population of approximately 500,000 people, composed of many different ethnic tribes. The majority of Chin people are Christian, with a minority Buddhist and Animist. The church plays a significant social role in Chin society, influencing many aspects of daily life. The majority of the population (98% in Maraland) are subsistence farmers, living in rural villages.
Chin State is one of the poorest and least developed states in Burma, with deficiencies in most sectors. The UNDP estimates that 73.3% of the population live below the poverty line, and the WFP estimates that 81% of households have inadequate food consumption. Chin people continue to flee to neighbouring countries/states like Mizoram (in India) and also to Malaysia. Until 2011, this was largely to escape forced labour and religious persecution, and today, continues because of the harsh living conditions and poverty. Subsistence agriculture is the main economic activity, but now much of the labour force is migrating leaving the most vulnerable behind to survive.
Chin State is a beautiful mountainous region but a challenging topography for agriculture. There are several natural resources, including forest products, waterways and minerals. However, there is very little infrastructure, with poor transport links and a lack of communication infrastructure.
Development Objective: To build the capacities of local civil society to reduce chronic poverty in southern Chin State.
1) By the end of the project, the staff and volunteers of two local civil society organisations develop their organisational and project management skills, improve their coordination and joint strategic planning and strengthen the cooperative relationship with Mission East.
2) By the end of the project, civil society actors in southern Chin State have improved capacity to manage projects in food security and livelihoods and have designed appropriate interventions.
This project is designed to strengthen organisational capacity and technical skills of two highly motivated civil society organisations in a marginalised and isolated area of Chin State, Burma where no other organisations are working. The organisations come from and work with minority tribal groups carrying out rural development with a high degree of community support and participation. They are small, with few financial resources, but have ambitions for growth to address the many needs in their region. This project will provide organisation development training, strengthen their advocacy work, introduce joint strategic planning (to reduce overlap and maximise impact) and improve broader coordination. It will also include assessments and training on food security and livelihoods, leading to the development of new projects to address significant needs in these sectors. These are all areas of need identified with the partners during a ME needs assessment in the area; a visit which led all partners to conclude that beginning a partnership would be beneficial and help fill some of the capacity gaps.