Yangon, 12 December 2011 – The Livelihoods and Food Security Trust Fund (LIFT) managed by UNOPS hosted a forum to unite efforts in line with the implementation of the Government’s rural development and poverty alleviation plan. The LIFT donors – Australia, Denmark, the European Commission, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom – set up the LIFT Fund in order to improve the food and livelihoods security of the poorest and most vulnerable people in Myanmar.
“The LIFT Forum on the Rural Economy would like to strengthen linkages between stakeholders including the private sector and the township authorities in order to boost the rural economy,” said UK Ambassador HE Andrew Heyn.
The Forum attended by more than 200 representatives from government, diplomatic community, UN Agencies, development partners and the business and public sectors met to hear from and engage with a wide range of organizations working to reduce poverty in Myanmar.
LIFT has worked with 32 partners that include 21 INGO, 7 Local Organizations, and 4 UN agencies. From early 2010, LIFT funded 22 projects in the Delta that have assisted more than half of the cyclone-affected population in the eight townships affected by the storm. The first injection of funds kick-started agricultural production and supported communities to begin building a better future while the second round of longer-term projects in the Delta addressed underlying problems of food insecurity and poverty.
The second round of projects are focusing on providing rural credit and supporting more activities that add value to agricultural and fish products with the aim of creating rural employment opportunities. LIFT also has nine partners implementing agricultural activities throughout three-year livelihood projects. A total of 87,395 households of 846 villages are being targeted in 40 townships across the Dry Zone, Kachin, Chin, Shan, and Rakhine States.
Presentations highlighted innovative approaches spearheaded due to LIFT’s support. Approaches highlighted included ponds to support rural women in the dry zone, micro finance loans to the poor, farmer field schools and youth leading rural development. A market place exhibition demonstrated varieties of rice, elephant pumps, snake and ladders game with rural development messages, and delicious sweets made in villages.
The Minister of National Planning and Economic Development’s representative Director General Daw Myat Myat Soe welcomed LIFT’s focus in improving livelihoods, as it is in line with the Government strategy to reduce poverty by half to 16% by 2015 in line with the UN’s Millennium Development Goal 1.
LIFT is active in all eight tasks of the Government’s plan that include: a) agriculture; b) livestock and fisheries; c) rural productivity and cottage industry; d) micro savings and credit enterprises; e) rural cooperatives; f) rural socio economy; g) rural renewable energy; and, h) environmental conservation. Since 2009, LIFT has focused assistance in areas that are resource poor while ensuring that it delivered targeted and effective support to almost 1 million beneficiaries in less than 2 years.
U Winston Set Aung, economic advisor to the President of Myanmar moderated a session with delegates from the shrimp industry, the rice industry, World Food Programme, Myanmar’s Women’s Entrepreneurs Association, UMFCCI and other partners each sharing their diverse experiences. Participants were able to raise new issues that can be fed into the ongoing rural economic reform agenda in Myanmar.
In her closing remarks, the Australian Ambassador H.E. Bronte Moules affirmed that, “while LIFT has already made a great start, its alignment with the Government’s own plans for Rural Development and Poverty Alleviation and plans to work with the private sector - may provide even further potential for improving the lives of Myanmar people.”
Please contact Yasmin Padamsee at UNOPS- LIFT email@example.com for any additional information.