Aug 09, 2022

In Myanmar we discussed whether we first should have peace for development to take place or whether development would finally lead to peace and stability in the country? Seventy years of military dictatorship had impoverished the country whilst the military continued fighting against ethnic minorities. Since 2010, Myanmar started walking the path of democratic governance. At the local level, the project’s focus was on building trust between the people and the local government. In this context, the process of change was one of ‘baby steps’; we addressed what was emerging into new insights and actions, rather than our preconceived notions and plans. We learned as much as our project partners.

The military coup in February 2021 added an angle to our discussion on peace and development; an unexpected and painful one. Almost overnight, economic progress and (some sort of) democracy were destroyed and threw the country back in its development at least 20 years. It is foreseen that in 2022 almost half of the population will again live under the poverty line. And yet, the resilience of the people in Myanmar is remarkable; they won’t give up fighting for a democratic federal state. A similar determination we see in the people of Ukraine who are prepared to pay with their lives for their country. We realize how fragile our situation of freedom and peace is. We might have taken it for granted, but not anymore; we have to ‘fight’ for it.

Peter, thank you for our collaboration and for your trust in me as a Team leader of the MAGIC project.

You always handed me a listening ear and valuable suggestions. The project turned out to be a journey on a rather bumpy road which we couldn’t complete. Nevertheless, the people we worked with are continuing striving for democratic (local) governance and peace. And so must we!

Anne-Marie Schreven

Associate Expert

A picture from the drawing session during the VNG-International staff conference in 2019: MAGIC in Myanmar: Municipal accountable governance and inclusive communities project.

Tekening Anne-Marie Schreven


As part of the publication ’Columns on peace and local democracy in international perspective’, composed in honor of the farewell of Peter Knip as director of VNG International. 

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