Shan State - Kun Nar village is found on a dusty track off the main road in Hopong Township in Southern Shan. This ethnically Shan village is located in the Pa-O self-administered region and surrounded by ethnically Pa-O villages. It’s also playing host to a fair number of landless families from Central Myanmar that settled in the outskirts of the village a few years earlier. That’s two reasons why Kun Nar stands out from other villages in the area. That’s two more reasons why strengthening inter-community resilience and cohesion are important for the people of Kun Nar.
Kun Nar is one of 40 villages identified for support by UNDP in Shan state, as part of a UNDP project that covers 300 villages in 24 townships in 7 states in the country. With funding support from the Government of Japan, and in partnership with over 35 non-governmental organizations, UNDP is supporting the livelihood and strengthening social cohesion in these communities by providing them with social protection assistance; grants for agriculture, livestock and micro-enterprises; vocational training; community mobilization and training; and infrastructure.
In partnership with Sein Hla Nanda, a local NGO, UNDP has mobilized the village to set-up a ‘Livelihood and Social Cohesion Committee’ made-up of men and women chosen by the community to act as a link between UNDP, Sein Hla Nanda and the village, and to watch over project activities. Now trained on subjects like management and book-keeping, the Committee conducts monthly meetings with the entire village to keep them briefed on project activities and displays detailed information on project finances on the walls of the newly constructed food-bank facility.
“Previously no other organization has worked in our village” says a village leader. “There’s a lot we are learning from this experience”.
He is referring to the new livelihood techniques and skills like drip irrigation, composting and vermiculture introduced by the project, that’s helping Kun Nar’s farmers improve their farming methods and increase their profits. They also benefitted from the exposure visit to a farming community in the Inle Lake area, where they saw first-hand benefits of some of these new techniques. Villagers like carpenter U Sai Than Soe have used their livelihood grants to upgrade their tools and implements. “I used to make about MMK1500 a day before, but now I am earning about MMK4000” he says. He and his wife have decided to use the increased income to make much-needed improvements to their home. The villagers are looking forward to project’s improvements to access roads that will link them to other villages and towns, giving them new markets and clients for their now improved produce and skills.
The village community is most excited about how they are working. At a recent village meeting facilitated by the Livelihood and Social Cohesion Committee, the village voted to use the savings from the food-bank to assist a number of poor families who can’t afford to send their children to school or who are taking care of elders. The community is also reflecting. “We’ve noticed that youth and older people are not that active in village activities. We want to think about and start changing that.”
A good start for Kun Nar.
Social Cohesion and Governance Specialist
+95-1-542910 to 19