The World Bank funded NCDDP is one of the biggest aid interventions Myanmar has ever seen.
The current project is over half a billion US dollars in scale. To give some perspective that is substantially more than all of the combined international aid for the response to Cyclone Nargis.
Yet where the Nargis response received headlines the world over and was closely analysed by hundreds of local and international organisations, we feel that the NCDDP has received far less attention.
What’s more, the NCDDP is not like a traditional aid project. Rather than being a grant to Myanmar for its development, around 80 percent of the massive project budget is a loan from the World Bank.
In the coming years, the Myanmar government will have to repay the World Bank for this loan.
In practical terms this means that each Myanmar citizen will have to pay back over 11,500 kyat for the NCDDP (with perhaps more for interest on the loan). If the project expands to 330 townships then this figure could be much higher. This brings a different and more tangible form of accountability of the project to Myanmar citizens.
Finally, the project is also entwined with issues of peace and conflict in Myanmar - with several project townships being in conflict affected areas.
From our perspective at the Forum, this is not to suggest that the Community Driven Development project is a problem, or should be stopped. Building local level infrastructure and community participation in Myanmar is hugely important.
Rather, we are simply highlighting that the NCDDP matters a lot for Myanmar’s future and deserves far more attention and debate than it is receiving.
Greater attention on the NCDDP can help the Myanmar government and the World Bank to deliver on the project’s potential.
In the coming weeks we will be exploring a range of different angles on the NCDDP and drawing out some of the project’s biggest challenges and opportunities.
The NCDDP is one of the biggest aid interventions ever in Myanmar. We believe that making it work better for the country will require a new level of transparency and engagement.
picture by Ye Yint (see the development photography series at pkforum.org/gallery)