Written by Mekong Institute

The overall purpose of the research is to document and assess the information collected that can give us an indication of the LED framework, policies and practices and, most importantly to understand the needs for capacity development for a more inclusive and equitable growth of Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS) with the goal in contributing to rapid local economic development and inclusive growth along East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC)of the GMS.   

The research work is being conducted through desk review of available sources of information. Interviews of LED and related stakeholders were being conducted to obtain their perceptions on LED framework, policies and practices. In order to obtain the current LED results, a Compass Workshop was conducted with relevant stakeholders from the government departments, private enterprises, and NGOs which are contributing to the local economic development.

To assess LED capacities among officials involved in Kayin Sate LED process, an institutional analysis and LED Actor Mapping was conducted using individual interviews and the Compass Workshop. In assessing current knowledge, skill, and attitude of LED officials individual analysis and a CDNA Survey was conducted. In order to identify capacity needs of these officials internal assessment was also conducted.

After receiving the Training on LED Research Framework and Methodology which was conducted at Mekong Institute from January 14 to 18, the National Consultant developed research work plan and the activities involved desk review, conduct of individual interviews as per research matrix, CDNA Survey and Compass Workshop in Hpa-an, capital of Kayin State, Myanmar. Work began on 20 January 2014 and ended on 19 March 2014.

After years of conflict the economy of Kayin State has been very weak, particularly the agriculture sector, and there is a severe lack of motivation in the agriculture sector. In addition to the problems of conflict, the State has been encountering frequent floods in the rainy season and scarcity of water for its agriculture in the dry season.

Maize has market potential for farmers and there is high demand for the product from animal feed factories in Thailand. Other crops such as green gram, sesame and groundnut could easily find market if quality product and value change devel opment is assured.

About 93 percent of respondents in the CDNA survey say they are involved in LED processes with 60 percent in the implementation process and 50 percent in the sensitization process. The majority of those who are directly involved are government officials.

Fiscal decentralization has improved things better as local government is able to have some opportunity of making decision and things move faster, and grassroots community benefit from such progress. However, decision making power final responsibility is still with the national level authority. There is a relevant national LED strategy and programs for sub-national territories. But sub national level needs both financial and technical support from the national level. Government departments at state level like DOA, Department of Trade Promotion, especially Chief Minister’s office, Myanmar banks, and other organizations like KSD, NGO, INGO, CCI are the institutional drivers. It is found that local stakeholders shared vision, understanding and participation in development of LED.

This is done through discussions and sharing experiences and information in weekly and monthly meetings. Stakeholders have been sensitized and awareness has already been raised. Thus local stakeholders take ownership of the LED process, as they initiated the activities themselves and implemented the activities themselves.

The private sector is taking increasing role and initiative in LED (e.g. it is involved in the set up of industrial zone and infrastructure development). But some feel that members of the private sector are working on individual basis, and needs to be more mobilized and organized to participate in LED.

Currently there are initiatives to improve local tourisms in Kayin State. Value factors include better services for tourists through hotel services, transportation services, guide services, entertainment services and so forth. However, Kayin State still lacks the technology to refine its goods and value chain development, hence needs further greater efforts and external help.

There are attempts to do LED in an eco-friendly way. For example, when a company is to enter into an agreement with the State Government, it needs to do the social and environmental impact assessment. Only after the clearance is received, the State Government would let the companies to work in the local area.

There are measures taken for local people to be sensitized in order to increase participation. For local officials and those who are direct stakeholders, the Chief Minister exhorted them to participate in LED initiatives in official meetings, and for the public the CM in his rounds of field visits to townships and villages informed the people about the importance of people participation in LED activities. For both the government officials and the people a committee called Planning and Implementation Committee lead the sensitization initiatives. LED activities design includes agriculture, livestock, fisheries, trade promotion, and infrastructure development including capacity development. The focus area is griculture.

Under the leadership of the CM’s office, relevant stakeholders come together to work together. At its annual planning sessions or at appointed meetings LED stakeholders come together to discuss their respective plan and how they could find synergies between LED activities. LED actors, specifically among the government officials do have to some extent understanding of LED. Non – government LED actors could have a lesser understanding.

It is generally perceived that there is no gender discrimination issue in Myanmar society, It is however necessary to improve LED actors’ capacity on mainstreaming gender to keep abreast of the changing world and gender issues.

Major difficulties and constraints that affect the results of LED mentioned include 1) Peace an d stability, 2) Shortage of manual labour , 3) Shortage of agricultural inputs, 4) Lack of technology know-how, 5) Lack of investment, 6) Inadequate infrastructure (transportation, communication, electricity services), 7) Loan takers unable to repay loans, 8) Unstable agricultural harvest prices, 9) Poor land quality, 10) Due to more income gained as migrant workers, people do not want to work in local areas and in traditional livelihoods such as agriculture and livestock.

Appropriate measures for controlling floods in the rainy season and provision of adequate water for crops cultivation in summer should be developed and addressed by the government with the assistance of external help. There is an urgent need to improve its infrastructure if local economic development is to be achieved.

State Parliamentarians should lobby for further fiscal decentralization so as local government will be able to have increased opportunity of decision-making. Kayin State has a considerable natural resources and a potential for improving its economy through agricultural, livestock and trade promotions.

If State level actors have increased decision making power in LED, and its resources in both skill and financial are adequate, then it could perform effectively and efficiently in its LED initiative processes. The State Government should enlarge its institutional drivers outside its sphere of authority to include members from non-government organization for increased participation and inclusiveness in LED initiative process.

Untimely rains and floods in rainy season are the main constraints and difficulties in maize farming. Appropriate measures for controlling floods in the rainy season and provision of adequate water for crops cultivation in summer should be developed and addressed by the State Government with the assistance of external help.

Additionally, Local KED actors need to constantly upgrade their understanding of their economic reality and of LED through the cooperation with international capacity building organizations.

To spur the increasing role of private sector in LED process, the government needs to devise the strategy to mobilize them as well as to enable them to be better organized in LED participation process. Kayin State LED stakeholders should continue to cooperate with other states and regions to increase its effectiveness and impact. Myanmar has now opened up for cooperation with the outside world, and both the Myanmar Government and the international organizations should take this opportunity to work together for a ‘Win Win’ approach thereby advancing the development of Myanmar, particularly the Kayin State which is recognized for having immeasurable potential economic growth in the near future.

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