Myanmar Appeal No. 01.65/2004 Annual Report

In Brief

Appeal No. 01.65/2004;

Appeal target: CHF 1,341,482 (USD 1,006,112 or EUR 858,549);

Appeal coverage: 99.2%.

Operational context

The year 2004 was marked by an unstable economic climate and a constantly evolving political situation. The national convention was held from May to July with more than 1,000 participants, although after intense discussions with the government, the National League for Democracy (NLD) did not participate. The participants were set to reconvene in the first quarter of 2005.

Some key changes occurred in the government in mid-October, the most significant being the change of prime minister and the minister of foreign affairs, followed shortly afterwards with further changes at a higher level. However, the Myanmar government stated that it remained committed to continue the process elaborated in 2003, advance the seven-step plan for the democratization of Myanmar and prepare for its role as ASEAN chair from 2006. During the year a number of missions to and from neighbouring countries, including China, India, Thailand, Lao PDR, Malaysia and Japan were undertaken by the government for trade and cultural talks, and after a degree of negotiation between ASEAN and the European Union countries, the government participated in an Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) held in Hanoi in October.

The overall socio-economic situation continued to weaken with changes in the political climate and although the Myanmar Kyat remained relatively stable against the US dollar for most of the year, food prices continued to

increase and people found it increasingly difficult to buy even basic goods. The sanctions imposed by the United States and restrictions on export and imports maintained by other countries continued to have a negative impact on the economic status and welfare of the population. During the latter part of the year, there were reports of renewed tensions in the border areas with both Thailand and India.

With the onset of the monsoon season in May, as the country readied itself for the annual floods, a major storm hit the Rakhine coast in the east of the country along the Bay of Bengal, causing major destruction of communications, boats, houses, schools and public buildings, and leaving more than 220 people dead and some 25,000 homeless. The government took an unprecedented step in asking for international assistance, and the Federation, in support of the Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) and in cooperation with the regional delegation, launched an international appeal, the first for Myanmar.

Against this background, with a strengthened Federation delegation in place for the previous 18 months, the MRCS continued to show its commitment to changing its structure, systems and image within the country to better serve the most vulnerable communities. Both the strategic planning process and the comprehensive branch survey, started in late 2002, were completed and the draft five-year strategic plan and the report of the survey were both presented to the partnership meeting held in October 2004, the first such meeting for 10 years. The reorganization and strengthening of the national headquarters divisions continued throughout the year, with clear indications by the year's end that substantial steps had been taken to increase commitment and professionalism, and support to branches. The preparation of the first branch development plan was completed and funding secured through the Federation's capacity building fund, thus setting the scene for an expanded branch programme in 2005. Of particular note was the progress made by the finance department in clarifying and enforcing financial rules and regulations and closing the society accounts for the previous three-year period.

During the year, a number of new donor national societies came onboard with the German, Swedish and British Red Cross societies agreeing to work together as a consortium through the Federation. The Danish Red Cross continued to prepare its bilateral community health programme with the MRCS, but worked increasingly closely with the Federation in health-related matters. Fundraising for Myanmar continued to be an important aspect of the delegation's work. The delegation was strengthened during the latter part of the year after the end of the contract of the organizational development/disaster preparedness delegate, with this position being replaced by a programme coordinator and a disaster preparedness delegate.

In comparison with the previous year, the MRCS, with valuable support from the Federation delegation, was able to achieve a more consistent performance, meet most of its key objectives and utilize properly the funding provided for its disposal by the donor societies.

For further information specifically related to this operation please contact:

In Yangon: Dr. Hla Myint, President of the Myanmar Red Cross Society; e-mail: mrcshs-ec@redcross.org.mm; Phone: +95.1.383.681; Fax: +95.1.383.675

In Yangon: Joanna MacLean, Head of Myanmar Delegation; e-mail: ifrcmm01@redcross.org.mm; Phone: +95.138.3686; Fax: +95.138.3682

In Bangkok: Bekele Geleta, Head of Regional Delegation; email: ifrcth23@ifrc.org; phone: +66.2.640.8211, fax: +66.2.640.8220

In Geneva: Charles Evans or Sabine Feuglet, Southeast Asia Desk Officer, Asia Pacific Department; email: charles.evans@ifrc.org or sabine.feuglet@ifrc.org; Phone: +41.22.730.4320/4349; Fax: +41.22.733.0395

This Annual Report reflects activities implemented over a one-year period; they form part of, and are based on, longer-term, multi-year planning. This annual report also covers the operational period from 1 November to 31 December 2004 not covered by the last programme update . All International Federation assistance seeks to adhere to the Code of Conduct and is committed to the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response in delivering assistance to the most vulnerable. For support to or for further information concerning Federation programmes or operations in this or other countries, please access the Federation's website at http://www.ifrc.org

(pdf* format - 201 KB)