It is ‘time for change’ in Myanmar. But what about in our own strategies?

May 26, 2016

Pyae Phyo Maung reflects on the new NLD government and rapid changes in the country- and what this means for the strategies of aid organisations and NGOs.

 

 ‘Change’ and ‘time to change’ have recently been very popular words and used by the government to win the hearts of many people.

 

But ‘change’ requires many efforts and commitments. Sometimes, change is sweet but sometimes it is bitter.

 

In the development industry, five or six years ago, many donors started demanding of higher level results of their inputs, rather than lower level results or direct outputs.

 

Development organisations and NGOs, which have to rely upon the donors’ funding, have been trying to equip themselves with new theories and approaches.

 

The trend also shifted to a ‘program’ approach rather than a ‘project’ approach. Many of the agencies have drawn long-term plans and strategies to attract donor funding. Some of those strategies are for the next five to ten years.

 

However, our country has been in a time of rapid change since the first civil government.

 

The government won the hearts of many people with the words ‘time to change’, and movements for change are very swift. The government’s commitment towards holistic development appears to be very high and various 100-day action plans by different ministries clearly show the government’s investment in holistic development of the country.

 

All of these plans can be multipliers for the long-term strategies of development agencies and NGOs. But on the other hand some of the assumptions and theories put forward in the strategies may become irrelevant.

 

The donors have not initiated their demands at this point. But my personal opinion is that development agencies should now reflect on their long-term strategies and assumptions.

Some will no longer be realistic, some will not be in line with the recent progress of the country, as well as the action plans of the government. Agencies should realign their strategies accordingly.

 

However, it is a big step that needs to be taken and a bit challenging for many organizations. It is worth taking the challenge though.

pic: mizzima/epa

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