Myanmar’s focus on poverty reduction welcomed by humanitarian partners

News and Press Release
Originally published

Yangon, 17 August 2011 – Recent initiatives by the Government of Myanmar in the area of poverty reduction are encouraging and should be supported, according to participants at yesterday’s Myanmar Humanitarian Partnership meeting, a monthly meeting attended by development experts, heads of missions and agencies, diplomats and aid workers.

The meeting discussed the Government’s recently announced Rural Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy, in which the target of reducing poverty levels in Myanmar to 16 percent from the current level of 26 percent by 2015 is reaffirmed, in line with targets under the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In recent months, the Government has also launched a series of national and regional level workshops on poverty reduction, the first held in May this year and another to commence on the 19t of August, and the establishment of a Rural Development and Poverty Alleviation Central Committee, chaired by President U Thein Sein.

The development priorities identified in the Government’s Rural Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy include agricultural production, livestock and fishery, rural productivity and cottage industries, micro saving and credit enterprises, rural cooperative, rural socio-economy, rural energy, and environmental conservation.

“We welcome the Government’s renewed focus on poverty reduction and its expressed intention to engage a broad range of stakeholders to ensure that policies and plans result in concrete action that can help alleviate poverty in the country,” said the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator a.i, Mr. Bhairaja Panday,” who chaired today’s meeting.

Myanmar’s performance in reducing poverty has important implications for achieving MDG1 (ending poverty and hunger) by 2015. To realize the poverty target of MDG1, the UN advocate and support comprehensive and dynamic pro-poor and inclusive development strategies that also give sufficient attention to reducing sub-national as well as gender inequalities and full and effective participation of all stakeholders.

“A poverty reduction strategy is an essential part of a country’s effort to bring about true development and improve the lives of its citizens. The United Nations and our development partners stand ready to support the acceleration of MDG progress in Myanmar, said Mr. Panday.

The United Nations last year identified four strategic priorities, which will guide UN engagement and programming and form the basis of a new Strategic Framework for the period 2012-2015. These include activities to encourage inclusive growth, both rural and urban, including agricultural development and enhancement of employment opportunities, increase equitable access to quality social services, reduce vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change, and promote good governance and strengthening democratic institutions and rights.

The priorities are the result of extensive analysis of humanitarian and development challenges in the country and close consultation with Government ministries and other development partners, including donors.

“There are several linkages between the UN Strategic Framework and the poverty reduction strategy from the Government, and we look forward to further engagement with the Government to ensure that poverty and other development challenges are addressed in Myanmar,” said Mr. Panday.