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. 

Map of Myanmar
© FDFA

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. 

Military takeover

The military coup of 1 February 2021 brought radical change to the country, exacerbating polarisation, conflict, poverty and humanitarian needs. Switzerland strongly condemned the military coup and stopped the collaboration with the military government so as not to legitimise the coup.

Switzerland remains engaged in Myanmar, but has adapted and reoriented its cooperation programme. Interventions that mitigate the impact of the crisis on the population and contribute to conflict transformation and dialogue will be prioritised until the end of 2023. Existing thematic areas in which Switzerland has proven experience, expertise and partnerships provide a solid basis for responding to the growing needs of the population and promoting a negotiated solution to the crisis.

Fragility, conflict and human rights 

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

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

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.

Current projects

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Emergency response to address malnutrition through improved nutrition, mental health and care practices in Maungdaw District, Rakhine State

01.05.2017 - 31.05.2018

The violence that took place on October 9 2016, and the ensuing insecurity across Northern Rakhine State (NRS), resulted in the suspension of humanitarian services in the area. Many of the affected people missed out on their seasonal food assistance, school feeding and regular nutrition support for at least three months, resulting in a significant negative impact on the food security, health and nutritional status, and mental health of vulnerable families. With this emergency response, Action Contre la Faim (ACF) will address increased malnutrition through an integrated program, which aims to reduce child and Pregnant and Lactating Women (PLW) undernutrition, mortality and morbidity.


Township Democratic Local Governance (TDLG)

01.12.2016 - 31.12.2022

In Mon State, with a traditionally strong Swiss presence, the project promotes a participatory, inclusive and transparent process around development grants, in order to improve the delivery of basic services at Township and village levels. Together with the state’s authorities, with the aim of including the governance structures of the Ethnic Armed Groups, the living conditions and space for democracy for the local people in ten Townships should improve with tangible development results.


Joint Peace Fund (JPF)

01.04.2016 - 31.12.2022

The Joint Peace Fund (JPF) is a multi-donor fund for joint action in, on and around the peace process, bringing together conflict parties (GoM and armed groups), civil society organizations and international donors. The JPF is managed by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and a Technical Secretariat from the Nordic International Support Foundation (NIS). As there is no peace without development and no development without peace, this fund is crucial for a concerted action of all stakeholders.


WFP Secondment Protection and Gender Advisor

01.06.2015 - 31.12.2016

In Myanmar especially conflict affected and rural populations suffer from moderate to severe malnutrition; but also extreme weather conditions may increase the situation of food insecurity. In recent years there have been reports on protection gaps in the implementation of WFP programmes and women and children are struggling to receive support. The secondment will provide technical support in the domain of protection and gender to the WFP country program.

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