Myanmar: working with local organisations on population displacement

from Solidarités International
Published on 07 Dec 2015 View Original

Clashes in Kachin State between the national army and a local armed group in recent years have led to the displacement of more than 100,000 people. These people are now living in camps in difficult access areas. Willing to go where others don't, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL teams have since been working in partnership with local actors to reach affected populations in 13 camps.

"We cannot escape, these people are our people"

Two thirds of all the displaced persons in Kachin and Northern Shan States are housed in camps located in remote and isolated areas beyond government control where access to international organizations is being limited since November 2014. Local NGOs are therefore at the forefront of the humanitarian response since the 2011 crisis. Paul Aung Dang is the Director of SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL's emergency response partner in these States, Karuna Myanmar Social Services (KMSS): "We have to stand for people in need and cannot escape, these people are our people; we know them, and they know us."

Local organisations' knowledge and networks are complemented by international agencies' technical expertise. "Our local partners are in fact the ones implementing programmes in water, sanitation and hygiene as well as food security, because of their possibilities to access certain areas. Training is an essential part of programming in such a context," David Da Rocha explains. "With the presence of international humanitarian actors, step by step, local organizations have generally improved their capacities and experience," Pastor Lar Roi, for KBC, adds.

Local organizations have been allowed to work without access limits by both parties of the conflict and are therefore widely accepted and trusted by the affected communities. The Kachin Baptist Convention (KBC) is a partner of SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL in the field since 2012.

Essential actors

The significant presence of Christian communities in Kachin State and their involvement in humanitarian aid make them essential actors in delivering relief to conflict affected populations, as explained by David Da Rocha, Field Coordinator for SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL: "Access to these populations is our priority. We find a benefit in working with these NGOs because they have knowledge of the context and are more able to find relevant information in a complex context. They were here well before us, after all!"

David's deputy, San Aung Li, brings a word of caution: "Churches and humanitarian organizations share the same goal, but do not have the same mandate".

"We have to continue our partnership and strengthen it"

After three years of fruitful partnership, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL wishes to go on reinforcing the capacities of its local partner, through the development of tools, training and stronger cooperation at field level. "Since Solidarités International and KBC started to cooperate, our partnership has clearly improved. Now, we jointly design projects and assess needs together during joint field visits. We have to continue this partnership and strengthen it".

In October 2015, Solidarités International and KBC renewed their partnership to answer the needs of people living in camps and conflict-affected villages.