Yenan Chaung Township, Magway Region, Republic of the Union of Myanmar
Beneficiaries: 13,459 people in 3,218 households in 29 villages
Project duration: 6 years
Government of Myanmar (GOM) through the Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department (LBVD) under the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development, Office of the Narcotic Control Board (ONBC), Thailand International Development Cooperation Agency (TICA) under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Mae Fah Luang Foundation under Royal Patronage (MFLF)
Central Dry Zone is well known for its severe drought and considered one of the least developed areas of the country. When Cyclone Nagis struck Myanmar in 2009, a large number of international organisations focused their relief missions in the affected area, and as such, the Government of Myanmar requested for longer term development projects to be implemented in the Central Dry Zone as well.
In October 2010, Mae Fah Luang Foundation, with financial support from the Office of the Narcotic Control Board and Thailand International Development Cooperation Agency (TICA) under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Livestock Breeding and Veterinary Department (LBVD) under the then Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries of Myanmar to implement a Sustainable Alternative Livelihood Development project in Yenan Chaung Township, the least developed township of Magway Region. Covering 16 villages in 4 village tracts in 2011, the Project expanded its target area to 13 more villages in 2 additional village tracts in 2013 upon the request of the community.
With the ultimate goal of improving the quality of life and providing sustainable livelihood for the local community by improving food security, reducing household expenses, and generating more income for the villagers, the development project in Yenan Chaung has a six-year timeframe in order to tackle the problems in appropriate phases, building up the capacity of the local people gradually.
Development initiatives in the first three years are aimed at addressing the people’s survival and basic needs. Activities implemented by the Project include improvement of water storage and systems, establishment of anti-venom serum banks to save people from snake bites, alternative energy development, and a livestock management programme. Given water resource scarcity and limited agricultural productivity in the area, the livelihood of the community relies heavily on livestock, which are a key asset of the people in the Dry Zone. Therefore, special emphasis has been given to a comprehensive livestock programme- including livestock medicine fund, livestock volunteer training, increasing livestock availability for the most impoverished members of society through a ‘goat bank’, and feed development. The training of village volunteers to become ‘livestock volunteers’ not only serves the purpose of improving livestock health but ensures the capacity building of community members to become an important link between the Project and community, putting the local people at the core of their own development process and empowering them towards self-reliance in the long run.
By the end of the third year, the MFLF has begun to work with the community to ensure their sustainable livelihood going forward. The Foundation and community are working together on value-adding activities to transform locally abundant quality raw materials such as groundnuts, sesame, and toddy sugar into higher-value products such as flavourful peanut cookies, peanut toffees, peanut brittles, sesame brittles, and roasted peanuts. The effort gives birth to the brand “Happy Owl”, a social enterprise which will provide sustainable well-being for the community beyond the life of the project.