When Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar in May 2008, many families lost their homes and means of making a living. Our emergency response included providing shelter to some of those most in need. Pyone Pyone and her daughter received materials to build a new home. 'When I found my name on the list to get a house I was happy… Now I feel more secure. When it rains, this will protect us.' (Photo: Jane Beesley/ Oxfam Great Britain)
Oxfam in Myanmar
Oxfam has been supporting communities in Myanmar since 2008 when the devastating impact of Cyclone Nargis hit the Delta region. Oxfam’s vision for Myanmar is for women, ethnic nationalities, and all citizens to be able to enjoy their social, cultural, economic, civil and political rights.
Opening up the channels of communication
‘The more the local people benefit from FDI and the more sustainable it is, the better.’
As the region around the Mekong attracts greater FDI, opportunities for development and poverty alleviation also increase for the poor in the region. This, however, could also cause damage.
In November 2016, Oxfam and the United Nations Development Program China jointly organised the ‘Roundtable on Chinese Investment in Myanmar: Opportunities and Challenges for Achieving Sustainable Development Goals’. Chinese enterprises that invested in Myanmar and representatives from Myanmar’s civil society were invited to a dialogue in Beijing. It was hoped that through it, the benefits of FDI for Myanmar’s local communities could be maximised while damage to the environment could be minimised.
Community representatives from Myanmar highlighted the relationship between land rights and livelihoods, and pointed out that foreign enterprises should take into account the needs of small farmers in their investments. In the meeting, representatives of Chinese enterprises – including CITIC Construction, China National Petroleum Corporation, Hubei Provincial Seed Group, Yunan DH Silco Enterprise Co. Ltd – agreed on the need for corporate social responsibility and strengthened communication with local communities.
‘China is the most important foreign investor in Myanmar. The more the local people benefit from FDI and the more sustainable it is, the better,’ said Paul Joicey, Director of Oxfam in Myanmar. He pointed out that agriculture plays an important role in developing countries. When poor FDI decisions are made though, a number of problems typically arise, like land grabs. To smallholder farmers, land rights mean livelihoods.
Besides facilitating dialogue between stakeholders and companies, we also work at the village level to ensure that poor communities can make their voices heard and influence the decisions that affect them.
Photo: Zheng Junzhu / UNDP China
Photo: Oxfam in Myanmar