On October 3rd, the “Municipal Accountability, Governance and Inclusive Communities” (MAGIC) project was launched in Yangon, Myanmar.
The morning session covered the launching ceremony with a presentation of the MAGIC project and the publication of a booklet “Social Accountability in Action, Stories from Dawei and Myeik in Tanintharyi Region, Myanmar”. During the Local Governnace seminar in the afternoon, national and international organisations and experts shared their experiences and views and discussed future actions for strengthening local governance in Myanmar.
The MAGIC project is expected to strengthen the functioning of the Township Development Affairs Organizations (DAOs) and to improve the engagement between local authorities and citizens – including civil society organizations, business associations, women and youth. The project aims to enhance the quality of municipal services and democratic local governance through participatory budgeting and increased transparency. It builds on the results of the “Promotion of participatory and accountable local governance in Tanintharyi Region” (PALGO) project (2015-2018).
The launch event has brought together participants from government, local and international non-governmental organizations and development partners working on strengthening local governance. Delegations from the townships where MAGIC operates have also attended the event. During the event, organisations and experts working on strengthening local governance shared their experiences and discussed future actions for improved accountability in budgeting and decision-making.
“MAGIC is designed to let local actors discuss and identify the specific needs in their municipality and allocate funding according to these needs. The most important contribution of this project is not funding however, but the provision of a platform to strengthen and discuss planning and budgeting processes with citizens.” – said Dr Johann Hesse, Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union to Myanmar.
Reflecting on the goals of the MAGIC project, Anne-Marie Schreven, Team Leader and Country Director of VNG International in Myanmar, said: “People don’t like paying taxes as they don’t get the services they need or expect. On the other hand, citizens don’t know the mandates of the DAOs and their limited budgets. Local authorities sharing information with the citizens and citizens collaborating with the DAOs to improve services is called Social Accountability and one of the main activities of the project.”
MAGIC is a four year project with a budget of EUR 2.5 million, funded by the European Union. The project is implemented by VNG International, together with Loka Ahlinn Social Development Network (LASDN) in Tanintharyi Region and the Hornbill Organisation (HBO) in Chin State. The project will work closely with the State and Regional Governments, in particular the Ministry of Development Affairs, the Ministry of Planning and Finance and the management and staff of the Regional / State and Township DAOs in Hakha and Falam in Chin State, and Dawei, Myeik and Kawthaung in Tanintharyi Region.