Finland's development cooperation in Myanmar
After over 50 years of military rule, Myanmar (previously known as Burma) strives for democracy, political stability and improved living conditions. Finland supports Myanmar’s peace process, including transition to the rule of law and democracy, women’s and girls’ rights, sustainable forest management, and improvement of the education system.
Of the 51.5 million people living in Myanmar, roughly half are under 27 years of age. Myanmar officially recognizes 135 different ethnic groups. The country belongs to the least developed country category and is at a fragile stage in its development. Over a third of the population live in poverty and over 70 percent of the poor live in rural areas.
Economic growth has been rapid in the past few years. Natural resources and the geographic location between China and India play a central role in Myanmar’s economic development.
Finland has planned to support Myanmar by a total of EUR 34 million in 2016–2019. In addition, support will be channelled via Finnish civil society organisations (CSOs) and higher education institutions (HEIs).
Myanmar is one of the fastest growing economies globally today. The Government is trying to improve the business environment and the country continues to open up to foreign investment and companies. Commercial cooperation between Finland and Myanmar is still modest, but opportunities for developing the economic relations look promising.
Team Finland collaboration in Myanmar is effective. Myanmar’s growth programme, led by Finpro, is in a key position in efforts to promote commercial relations between Finland and Myanmar. Myanmar also seeks to utilise private sector funding instruments offered by Finland.
Information technology, forestry, water management, mining, energy and education are examples of areas which could benefit from the knowhow of Finnish businesses. Finnish development cooperation in Myanmar creates new partnerships and opportunities also for commercial cooperation.
Civil society organisations
Myanmar is a relatively new partner country for Finnish CSOs. Finland supports Myanmar by approximately EUR 1.5–2 million annually via the about 10 Finnish CSOs operating in the country. They support for instance democracy development, improvement of the situation of people with disabilities, women's economic empowerment and development of education. The CSOs’ activities also support the achievement of the results of Finland's Country Strategy
Finland started development cooperation with Myanmar in 2012. Initially, Finland focused on the peace process, which is still regarded to be the basis for all development.
- Finland has supported the inclusion of different ethnic groups, civil society and women in the peace process and in the national policy dialogue.
- Finland supported the 2014 population census. In addition to the data on age and gender, the census produced data on for example education, health, living conditions, birth rate and migration. All information in the data is important when development plans are made and resources are allocated.
- Finland has supported the digitalisation of maps illustrating Myanmar's mineral reserves and helped in providing training for the authorities. These measures contribute to the development of the mining sector and help to attract new investments to the sector.
- With Finland's support, developmental needs in environmental governance have been examined and a foundation has been laid for better environmental protection.
- Women's and girls' access to sexual and reproductive health services as well as to services for victims of gender-based violence has improved in conflict areas. Through a programme supported by Finland, over 110,000 women and girls have gained access to these services.
- Finland's support has helped farmers to abandon opium cultivation and transfer to coffee and community forestry. Now farmers can earn a living by lawful means and strengthen environmentally sustainable development.
- In total, approximately 25,000 children (12,000 girls and 13,000 boys) from 60 different village communities in ethnic minority areas have received pre-primary education through Finland's support.
Myanmar is at a fragile stage in its development. Sporadic armed conflicts continue in certain parts of the country and human rights violations still occur. Social development and a lasting peace require strengthened governance and consolidation of mutual trust between the citizens and different groups of people. Corruption remains a significant challenge in Myanmar.
Myanmar is vulnerable to natural disasters which, like armed conflicts, can rapidly deteriorate the humanitarian situation.
Finland pays particular attention to risk management and coordinates its cooperation closely with other donor countries. A significant part of Finland's support to the development of Myanmar is channelled through the UN and other multilateral organizations, which employ a broad array of tools to monitor and manage risks. Projects and programmes are subject to constant monitoring, also through regular field trips and external assessments and evaluations.
Good forest governance
- Survey of Myanmar’s forest resources and development of information systems by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO: EUR 8 million in 2017–2021.
- Survey of forest resources in cooperation between the Natural Resources Institute of Finland (LUKE) and Myanmar’s Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry and Yezin Agricultural University: EUR 1 million in 2017–2020.
- Replacing drug cultivation areas with coffee plantations and community forests. The project is implemented by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC): EUR 3 million in 2016–2018.
Peace, democracy and rule of law
- Support to Myanmar's peace process. Launched in 2012, the support is channelled through the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission and the Euro-Burma Office (EBO). Third phase: EUR 3.6 million in 2016–2018.
- The multi-donor Joint Peace Fund is also used to support the peace process. In 2016–2018, Finland’s support was EUR 4.5 million.
- Support to democracy and rule by law development via the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Initiated in 2013 and now on its second stage, the support to the whole of UNDP's country programme 2016–2017 is EUR 4 million.
- Improvement of women's and girls' position and access to sexual and reproductive health services as well as to services for victims of gender-based violence in conflict areas. The support is channelled through UNDP: EUR 3.65 million in 2016–2018.
- Development of teacher education in cooperation with UNESCO: EUR 3.25 million in 2017–2019.
- Targeted support for the most vulnerable children, improving teaching conditions and support to strengthening the professional skills of teachers. Finland's support is channelled through the World Bank: EUR 7.12 million in 2017–2020.
- Approximately EUR 1.5–2 million a year is channelled to Myanmar via Finnish CSOs. These organisations work together with local partners, implementing both development cooperation and humanitarian projects.
- The HEI-ICI programme (Higher Education Institutions Institutional Cooperation Instrument) is used as a channel of support to collaborative projects between higher education institutes in Finland and Myanmar.
- The Liaison Office of Finland in Yangon is using the Local Cooperation Fund to support a local project, which focuses on children with disabilities and their access to education. The total budget of this 1,5-year project is EUR 120,000.
- In addition, Finnish support is channelled also via international organisations and international finance institutions, such as the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, to which Finland donates funds.
- Finland has provided humanitarian support to Myanmar almost on an annual basis.
- Finland has provided a total of EUR 2.5 million in debt relief to Myanmar.