Country Myanmar
Region Asia
Duration Start 1 February, 2015 till 30 April, 2018
Field of expertise Involving Citizens in Decision Making
Policy field(s) Institutional development
Intergovernmental relations
Post-conflict reconstruction
Public policy and planning
Funding Delegation of the European Union to Myanmar
Project code 11339
The overall aim of the action was to support the development of participatory and accountable local governance in Myanmar. This aim was achieved through an innovative and focused approach targeting key stakeholders in Tanitharyi region.

Specific objective 1: Enhanced capacities of two local authorities (LAs) of TR in participatory development planning and accountable financial management processes.
Specific objective 2: Strengthened active engagement and dialogue between LAs, local civil society (including women and youth) and business associations in ways that fostered public participation, transparency, accountability and communication.
Specific objective 3: Promoted in-country knowledge of and support for participatory and accountable local governance through development and dissemination of sustainable and innovative models, tools, research and resource materials.

Result 1: Enhanced capacity of two LAs in public and municipal administration, participatory development planning and accountable financial management; two functioning training centers in Dawei and Myeik and mobile trainings initiated; linkages strengthened with other LAs leading to enhanced knowledge on local governance.
Result 2: Increased shared understanding on local governance and citizen participation, improved capacity and stronger cooperation between LAs, CSOs and business associations (including women and youth) in participatory and accountable local governance; enhanced capacity and implementation of accountability and transparency mechanisms; improved communication/information between LAs, key stakeholders and the public.
Result 3: Training materials, research and publications on participatory local governance developed and available for LAs; local trainers capable of conducting trainings in good local governance; enhanced support for participatory local governance and accountable local democracy in Myanmar.

This project was implemented in cooperation with the Loka Ahlinn Social Development Network (LASDN).

The pilot nature of the project, initial relationship building, national elections that took place in November 2015 and the transition phase from the old to the new government have resulted in a later start of the actual implementation. In June 2016, a Letter of Agreement (LoA) for the project was signed by the new Tanintharyi Region Government, VNG International and Loka Ahlinn Social Development Network (LASDN). This was followed by recruitment of two of Myanmar's best local governance experts and design of the training 'Introduction to participatory and accountable local governance'. The latter was largely based on identification of an existing manual developed by another EU-funded project but revised and adapted to the target groups in Tanintharyi Region. 380 participants (including ToT participants) have participated in the training including MPs, government department staff, members of Township Development (Municipal) Affairs Committees (TDACs), ward and village tract administrators, CSOs, members of political parties and business representatives. The feedback from the trainings was overwhelmingly positive and participants reported an enhanced understanding of transparency, accountability, participation as well as their own role in contributing to improved local governance. They requested more and longer trainings going forward. Therefore, the training plan was revised, also following feedback from the ROM review during Year 2.

In Year 3 valuable lessons from the first two years of this pilot Action were taken into account and contributed to effective implementation. The Social Accountability modules were implemented and have had very positive impact on the participants. The SA modules resulted in the municipality developing relationships with CSOs in two towns, which did not exist before. These local governance interactions were particularly productive in Myeik, where they produced: a joint response to a local bird flu outbreak, joint activities for lake development, a list of issues to be tackled around waste management, the first municipal budget hearing in the region, Ward Administrators raising their voice. None of this was planned, which shows the importance of an “adaptive management” approach to complex local governance development projects.

Two Participatory Local Development Planning modules were rolled out in Dawei and Myeik. Due to the ToT form and training manual this training can be rolled out in the future. Furthermore, LASDN delivered a Leadership ToT and conducted several mobile trainings. In the end, training manuals for four training themes have been developed. To continue, in Year 3 DAC Members, Ward Leaders, CSOs partner, parliament members had a study visit to Than Phyu Zayet Township in Mon State. An international exchange visit to Nepal took place with the Regional Government Authorities Minister, Director of General Administer Department, Members of parliament, Township Department Affair Committee Chair person, Secretary and some Ward leaders.

The results of trainings and workshops, consultative meetings and continued backstopping can be observed in different functions. Observing the Local Authorities (LA) financing system in Nepal, Finance and Planning Minister of TR decided to transfer additional 1.2 billon Myanmar Kyat (approx. 857,000 USD) as a block grant to the townships. He told that Nepal is an example for Block Grant financing to LAs which he wants to replicate in Myanmar.

The second example of training effectiveness was seen when 12 Ward Administrators (WAs) of Dawei sent a complaint letter in February 2018 to the Chief Secretary of Tanintharyi about the TDAC and DAC. They noted that these government agencies were neither listening to their voice, nor responsive to queries. Moreover, the WAs wrote they were never invited to planning and budget meetings. The Chief Secretary responded to reprimand these government agencies. He instructed the TDAC and the DAC to become participatory, invite all WAs during meetings and listen to them. As a result the TDAC and DAC became more consultative and included the WAs in the decision-making process. The WAs told the SA training module encouraged them to write this letter of complaint.

In the end, the activities have contributed to the overall objective: strengthening participatory and accountable local governance in all of Myanmar.