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Where will the donor money go in Myanmar?

Pyae Phyo Maung explores the question of how much donor funding for local organisations will be diverted to the new government, and the potential impact of this.

Someone from multi-donor fund said to me ‘our original budget to support civil society organizations has had cuts, so we can directly support the new government.’

It is clear that some donors are now diverting their resources to support the new government with an assumption that it will be more effective and efficient in contributing to positive social changes in Myanmar.

But the reality may be far more complex than that.

There may also be a hidden agenda of building a relationship with the new government. The donors may have their own political agendas in shaping the country’s future. Who knows?

Whether people like it or not, the donor trends, particularly after the new NLD government has been ruling the country, are changing.

As CHANGE has a rippling effect, I see this as part of the ripple.

In the past – and I think it is still true - local NGOs and International NGOs saw each other as the financial competitors.

We are not sure yet whether the same thing will happen between the civil society actors and the government.

There is a key question regarding the sustainability of the functions of civil society organizations in watching over, mobilizing, shaping policies, and providing information to community and government.

Who will take responsibility for this - Government or donors or civil society organizations themselves?

The truth is that the majority of civil society organisations are still relying on donor money. But I think government should also take some responsibility to maintain the role of civil society organizations. And this role does not just mean in a way that just supports all the works of government.

I think a clear dialogue is needed between the civil society and government regarding this issue.

Such dialogue should include the topics such as (but not limit to) government’s foreign aid management system, defining explicit roles and space of civil society in shaping the political system and the community development, and setting up a communication channel between government and the civil society.

Donors may want to divert more money to government. But this raises important questions about what role civil society plays in the future.


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