Strategy – Myanmar

Switzerland provides the population in Myanmar with support in three main areas: peace, state-building and protection; vocational training and market development; and health. The military coup of 1 February 2021 brought radical change to the country. Switzerland adapted its cooperation programme and reoriented its engagement towards the basic needs of the population and conflict reduction. 

With the Swiss Cooperation Programme for Myanmar 2019–23, Switzerland pursues the overarching goal of contributing to a peaceful, inclusive, democratic and prosperous society by promoting sustainable development, conflict transformation, reconciliation and the participation of all people in state-building.

The cooperation programme focuses on the following three areas: peace, state-building and protection; vocational training and market development; and health. Transversal themes are gender equality, good governance, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. The geographical focus is on south-eastern Myanmar (Kayin State, Mon State and part of Tanintharyi Region), southern Shan State and Rakhine State. 

Skills and market development

Switzerland aims to increase capacities for gainful employment and market-oriented production through improved access to services and markets, with a focus on including remote and conflict-affected areas where employment opportunities are limited. It aims to improve income and livelihood opportunities for vulnerable women and men through technical vocational education and training models inspired by the Swiss dual education system.

In 2019 and 2020, Switzerland and its partners trained 14,000 learners (49% women) in the hospitality sector and other professions. It supported over 23’000 rubber farmers and tappers (36% women) with training in gender, land law, tapping skills, rubber processing and improved linkages with processing plants.

Vocational skills development

Health

Switzerland is committed to strengthening the health system and improving access to health services in conflict-affected and rural areas. It promotes cooperation between governmental and ethnic health organisations in the provision of high-quality health services, thus helping to build trust and strengthen social cohesion.

In 2019 and 2020, 160,000 births were attended by skilled health workers and 197 inclusive Township Health Plans were developed with Swiss support. In 2020, Swiss partners were at the forefront of the response to COVID-19, implementing prevention measures, procuring personal protective equipment and testing kits, and promoting policy dialogue and providing technical support to health actors on the ground.

Health

Peace, state-building and protection

Switzerland works with decision-makers at different levels to promote peace, democratic principles and decentralisation. It promotes dialogue between parties to the conflict and a strengthening of human rights. It empowers people and communities to participate in decisions that directly affect them, related to their access to land, resources and services. It also seeks to improve protection for vulnerable groups from conflict, violence and natural disasters.

In 2019 and 2020, Switzerland supported negotiations between the parties to the conflict within the framework of the peace process and the revision of the Code of Conduct for democratic elections. It supported civil society and local communities in articulating their positions on decentralisation and securing their access to land. Since 2019, Switzerland has been increasingly involved in the construction/maintenance of child-friendly schools that are safe from natural hazards. It has also been working to protect stateless people, those at risk from landmines and those who suffer from discrimination.

Disaster risk reduction, emergency relief, reconstruction and protection

Approach and partners

The cooperation programme combines the instruments of diplomacy, humanitarian aid, development cooperation and peacebuilding to respond to the complex situation Myanmar. Switzerland’s main partners are NGOs (Swiss, local and international), ethnic organisations, multilateral organisations, the private sector and authorities at central, regional and district level*.  

*After the military coup, Switzerland ceased its collaboration with state authorities and increased its cooperation with other partners to achieve its goals.